Apologies. Forgot to post this after Saturday game . . . .Better late than never, one supposes . . .
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
With one shot, Brendan Ranford put the game out of its misery.
Ranford’s WHL-leading 25th goal, just 16 seconds into overtime, gave the Kamloops Blazers a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen before 3,890 fans at Interior Savings Centre on Saturday night.
Had this game been a fairy tale, it would have been an ugly duckling, an ugly stepchild and a black sheep, all rolled into one. An ugly step-sheep, if you will.
How ugly was it? For starters, two of the four regulation-time goals came from the neutral zone.
“It was all right,” a grinning Ranford said after his fifth winner of the season allowed the Blazers to sweep the three-game season series from the WHL’s defending champions and to finish a three-point weekend.
It may have been all right for the Blazers, but you can bet neither coaching staff will spend much time watching the video.
Both teams were coming off intense Friday games — the Hitmen beat the Giants 4-3 in Vancouver, while the Blazers were dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the visiting Saskatoon Blades — and neither was able to scale the emotional heights in this one.
Of course, the Blades are as good as anyone in the 12-team Eastern Conference, while the Hitmen (8-20-2) are in the basement.
“We have to learn to do it,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said of his club‘s need to be more consistent with the level of its intensity. “We have to establish that in order for us to start putting wins in a row.”
Even Charron admitted that this game “was sloppy.” But, he added, “at least we redeemed ourselves.”
Kamloops defenceman Bronson Maschmeyer scored the game’s first goal when his first-period shot from centre ice glanced off the stick blade of Calgary defenceman Jaynen Rissling and got through goaltender Brandon Glover’s legs.
Just 1:01 later, Calgary forward Kris Foucault grabbed a rebound — the puck had gone off both posts behind goaltender Jeff Bosch — and tapped in the equalizer. The Hitmen were on the power play at the time, Bosch having been penalized for putting the puck over the glass.
The teams played through a scoreless second period, despite the fact the Blazers held a 19-5 edge in shots.
Right-winger Jordan DePape gave the Blazers a 2-1 lead at 7:58 of the third period, banging a rebound past Glover. But, just 28 seconds later, Rissling shot the puck from a step or two over the centre line and it got through Bosch.
“Bosch played an unbelievable game to get us that one point (against Saskatoon),” Ranford said. “You have to give him credit. Tonight, he wasn’t his absolute greatest but we need to get behind him and get a win for him.”
Charron added: “In the third period, after that goal on Jeff, we were asking, ‘What will happen next?’ But we stuck with the plan . . . and (Ranford) does what he does best.”
Yes, he did, even if he didn’t see the winner get past Glover. Ranford, a left-hand shot, snapped the puck from the right wing, beating Glover to the long side.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Ranford said. “I picked the puck up at the blue line and I went wide . . . I’ve always worked on that shot, to shoot for the far side because it’s such a tough save for the goalie, going against the grain. It was a nice shot and sometimes those go in.”
Still, Ranford admitted, he shot the puck and turned away to get back on defence.
“I didn’t expect it to go in; I was ready to go and backcheck,” he said. “I just heard the crowd go crazy. I was, like, ‘Oh, did it go in?’ ”
Yes, it did.
It also improved the Blazers’ record to 14-13-2 and lifted them into eighth place in the 10-team Western Conference where nine teams are within six points of each other.
The Blazers are in Vancouver to meet the Giants on Tuesday, before returning to face the Swift Current Broncos in the annual Teddy Bear Game on Friday night. On Dec. 13, 2008, the Broncos blanked the Blazers 2-0 here in the Teddy Bear Game.
JUST NOTES: Referee Trevor Hanson gave the Blazers four of seven minors and one of two majors. . . . Calgary was 1-for-3 on the PP; the Blazers were 0-for-2. . . . After the game, scoring changes gave assists to DePape, on Maschmeyer’s goal, and D Brandon Underwood, on the winner. . . . Kamloops C Chase Schaber had a 12-game point streak snapped. Ranford is riding his second 11-game point streak of the season. He has 25 points in those 11 games. . . . After two games without alternate captains, Maschmeyer and F Dylan Willick wore ‘A’s for Kamloops on Saturday. The coaching staff had taken letters away from DePape, Maschmeyer, D Corey Fienhage, D Austin Madaisky and F Shayne Neigum after a 10-1 loss to the Chiefs in Spokane on Nov. 24. . . . Former Blazers F Kris Hogg, who is from Sicamous, is on the selection camp roster for the team that will represent Canada at the World University Winter Games in Erzurum, Turkey, Jan. 23 through Feb. 6. Hogg now plays at Lakehead University. Only players from the Ontario University Athletics conference will play on the team. The camp runs from Thursday through Dec. 14 and will include an exhibition game against Canada’s national junior team on Dec. 14.
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