By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops Blazers could smell a rat on Friday night. They just couldn't trap him.
Right-winger Ty Rattie, who goes by Rat in Portland's dressing room, enjoyed the first three-goal game of his WHL career Friday night, leading the Winterhawks to a wild-and-crazy 8-6 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. The game was played before 4,072 fans at Interior Savings Centre.
The Blazers (4-5-0-1) are home again tonight, this time to the Prince George Cougars, while the Winterhawks (7-2-0-1) meet the Rockets in Kelowna.
Rattie, a 17-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., who was the second overall pick in the 2008 bantam draft, had three two-goal games in a 17-goal, 37-point freshman season.
The Winterhawks had an amazing eight players selected in the 2010 NHL draft, including forward Ryan Johansen, who went fourth overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Swiss right-winger Nino Niederreiter, taken fifth overall by the New York Islanders.
Rattie, a 6-foot-0, 170-pounder who almost certainly will be an early selection in 2011, now finds himself on a line with Johansen and Sven Bartschi, Portland's new Swiss sensation.
“I've been playing with Sven and now Johansen joined us so it should be a dynamic line,” Rattie said.
His was the first hat trick of the season by a Portland player and, combined with an assist, gives him 17 points, good for third place in the WHL points derby.
“In the WHL, you have those kinds of games,” Rattie said. “Sometimes it can be 1-0, sometimes it can be 9-8. You just have to end up on the right side.”
Rattie's first three-goal game came in the building in which his good friend, goaltender Kurtis Mucha, finished his five-year WHL career. Mucha played four-plus seasons with Portland before being traded to Kamloops in November.
“We're very tight,” Rattie said of his relationship with Mucha, who now is at the U of Alberta. “We lived together last year. I was pretty sad (when he was traded), but that's the way the game goes sometimes.”
Yes, and sometimes the game resembles a circus, as it did last night.
Rattie scored twice in the second period, his second goal at 9:25 giving the visitors a 4-1 lead and putting them, seemingly, in control.
However, the Blazers climbed off the canvas with three goals in 6:38 — linemates JT Barnett, Brendan Ranford and Chase Schaber all scored — to forge a tie going into the third period.
Furthermore, Portland winger Brad Ross showed too much truculence and belligerence late in the second period, bulldogging Kamloops forward Dylan Willick to the ice and then high-sticking him. The ensuing double minor put the home boys on the PP for the end of the period and into the third.
“They got three quick goals in the second,” Rattie said, “and we were talking (in the intermission) more about that and regrouping. Still, starting off with the big kill was huge for us.”
The Blazers couldn't do any damage on the PP, which ended prematurely when defenceman Austin Madaisky was nailed for hooking.
Rattie completed his hat trick 36 seconds later, with the teams playing 4-on-4, and centre Brendan Leipsic's second of the night upped the lead to two just 2:04 after that.
Just like that, the Blazers, moments before in such a promising position, were two goals down and chasing their tails again.
“We came back from a 4-1 deficit,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said. “I have to feel pretty good about it. But they are going to have to understand there are certain things in this business that you have to do well to be successful. It's a learning curve and the quicker we learn, the quicker we're going to have success.
“Right now, we're no different than we were last year when I came here. We're a .500 hockey team. We win a game . . . we lose a game. We win two, lose two. That's not good enough for me.”
Ranford finished with two goals, giving him nine in 10 games, while Jordan DePape, in his return from a five-game absence with a shoulder injury, and Dalibor Bortnak also scored for Kamloops.
Bortnak scored at 19:25 of the third period, cutting the deficit to 7-6, and had a glorious chance to tie it with 13 seconds remaining and goaltender Jeff Bosch on the bench. But Bortnak's shot sailed wide of Portland goaltender Ian Curtis.
Spencer Bennett, Sven Bartschi and Riley Boychuk, into an empty net, had Portland's other goals.
Bartschi, an 18-year-old from Switzerland, had a goal and two assists. He now has 14 points, tops among WHL freshmen.
“I don't know what Switzerland is doing but they're producing goal scorers,” said Rattie, who got to watch Niederreiter, who stuck with the Islanders, weave his magic last season. “They both know how to put the puck in the net.
“Sven definitely knows where the mesh is and he can find it any time. He showed it with his goal tonight.”
Curtis stopped 36 shots, while Bosch gave up seven goals on 27 shots.
Asked if Jon Groenheyde would start against the Cougars tonight, Charron said: “Ahhh . . . I don't know. I'll have to sleep on it.”
JUST NOTES: The Blazers finished 2-for-9 on the power play, while Portland was 2-for-4. . . . C Jesse Sinatynski, acquired by Kamloops from the Brandon Wheat Kings on Thursday, is expected to fly in today and could be in the lineup tonight. . . . Blazers RW Chase Souto, who has missed six games with a concussion, has been cleared to resume skating. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Rattie: Dazzled; 2. Bartschi: A real find; 3. Schaber: Four-point night wasted.
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