By Annie Fowler | Tri-City Herald
Marcus Messier lost his stick for the better part of a shift against the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday. No big deal for the Tri-City Americans forward, who instead used his body to block pucks.
It was just another day at the rink for Messier, who as a key player on the Americans’ penalty kill, takes a beating every game. “I think everyone has it in them. Everyone is going to have to do it at some point,” Messier said of blocking shots. “Being in the position as a penalty killer, in that situation you have to do it a lot more often because they want to get pucks to the net and you gotta try and limit that as much as possible.
“You gotta be nuts. A shoutout to all the PKers. They block a lot of shots and suck up the bruises. It’s part of the game.” Tri-City (14-10-0-2), which has won six in a row on home ice, has the third-best penalty kill unit in the Western Hockey League heading into tonight’s home game against the B.C. Division-leading Kelowna Rockets, who have the league’s top-ranked penalty kill.
The Rockets (16-3-0-2), who average four goals per game, also are stingy on defense, allowing just 2.5 goals per game. “They are a really good team,” said Americans defenseman Justin Hamonic, who also is one of the team’s premier shot blockers. “They are going to shoot a lot and we have to help our goalie as much as possible keeping pucks away from the net. It’s huge for us to have success against them.”
Messier, who still was smarting from a puck to the inner thigh on Thursday, is one of a handful of Tri-City players who lay their bodies in front of pucks every game.
In the end, one blocked puck — or not — can mean the difference between winning and losing.