By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
No WHL player is hotter these days than left-winger Brendan Ranford of the Kamloops Blazers.
The 18-year-old from Edmonton is on a run of three straight three-point games and has 11 points over his last four games. He leads the WHL with 20 goals and is tied for third in points, with 33, all accomplished in 21 games.
Ranford, who had 29 goals in 72 games last season, became the first WHLer this season to reach 20 goals when he snapped a 50-footer through a defenceman and past Everett goaltender Kent Simpson in the Blazers’ 3-1 victory over the visiting Silvertips on Sunday night.
“I shot around (the defenceman),” Ranford said. “For sure, (Simpson) was screened). I’ve been doing that since bantam and peewee hockey. I try to shoot across the box. It’s a tough save for him to make, going across the grain . . . he’s going one way and the puck goes the other way.”
As for the recent run in which Ranford has scored seven goals in four games, he said: “You have to shoot the puck. Right? (Head coach Guy Charron) is always me after me to shoot the puck more and . . . I’ve been getting the bounces.”
Next up for Ranford is Game 5 of the Subway Super Series, which will be played at Interior Savings Centre on Wednesday, 7 p.m. For whatever reason, Ranford wasn’t an original selection to Team WHL, but he was added to the roster on Thursday. (The WHL revealed Monday that winger Brendan Gallagher of the Vancouver Giants won’t play in the game here but will play Thursday in Prince George.)
Ranford has no idea how he’ll do on Wednesday; he just wants to play.
“They’re a really good hockey team,” he said of the Russians. “I’ve noticed how they’ve been doing.”
The Russians took two games from the QMJHL, winning 5-4 and 4-3, before dropping a 4-0 decision to the OHL on Thursday in London. Last night, in Sudbury, the OHL won 2-1 in a shootout.
Forward Lindey Vey of the Medicine Hat Tigers will play in both Super Series games. Vey, 19, had a goal and three assists in a 6-4 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on Saturday.
Vey, like every player on the team, wants to make an impression on Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast, and Medicine Hat head coach Shaun Clouston doesn’t know why he can’t do just that.
“I thought that the last two nights Linden has really done a good job with his game,” Clouston told the Medicine Hat News. “He has worked hard, but he has also played real smart.
“He is looking for the right spots. He is executing the systems. I think he is being rewarded for doing that.”
Vey is tied with Ranford for third in the WHL scoring race, each with 33 points.
G Jon Groenheyde, who was traded by the Blazers to the Edmonton Oil Kings for G Cam Lanigan on Nov. 4, watched Sunday’s victory over Everett.
“I haven’t been home yet,” he said, referring to Edmonton as “home.”
“This has been the longest road trip ever,” he added.
On the day of the trade, the Oil Kings were in Prince George for a weekend doubleheader, so Groenheyde joined them there. The Oil Kings went from there to Chilliwack, Kelowna and Spokane before wrapping up Saturday in Cranbrook.
The Oil Kings flew Groenheyde back to Kamloops to allow him to pick up his car and some belongings. They don’t play until Saturday when they are at home to the Red Deer Rebels.
JUST NOTES: Ranford was named the WHL’s player of the week on Monday. He had six points, including three goals, in the team’s two games. . . . Kamloops G Jeff Bosch is the WHL’s nominee as goaltender of the week after going 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA and a .984 save percentage. . . . Kamloops C Chase Schaber had an assist Sunday to run his point streak to eight games. He has 11 points, eight of them assists, over that stretch. . . . Ranford’s goal on Sunday was announced as unassisted. After the game, assists were added to RW Jordan DePape and D Austin Madaisky. . . . Team WHL players are to arrive in town this afternoon and practice at ISC at 5:30 p.m. The Russians are scheduled to practice at 7:30 p.m. . . . D Matt MacKenzie of the Calgary Hitmen has the flu so won’t play Wednesday. He has been replaced by D Alex Petrovic of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Schaber and D Austin Madaisky of the Blazers are part of Team WHL for the Wednesday game. . . . Spokane D Jared Cowen will captain Team WHL on Wednesday. Schaber and F Curtis Hamilton of the Saskatoon Blades will serve as alternates. . . . The Blazers, with seven victories in their last 10 games, next play Friday in Everett and Saturday in Portland. Their next home game is Nov. 23 against the Regina Pats.
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