By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops Blazers have been waiting for Colin Smith to score.
Perhaps the wait is over.
Smith scored three goals Friday to lead the Blazers to a 5-2 WHL victory over the Chilliwack Bruins before 4,102 fans at Interior Savings Centre.
Smith, the seventh overall pick in the 2008 bantam draft, was a prolific scorer in the bantam AAA and midget AAA ranks in Edmonton. He arrived with such fanfare it's sometimes hard to remember that he still is only 17 years of age.
Smith finished last season with 26 points, including five goals, in 48 games, the start of his season delayed by a broken arm suffered when he lost a collision with a net in training camp.
Last night, Smith upped his goal total to 10 - he also has 16 assists - in 42 games. He scored twice in the game's first 8:24 and finished the hat trick at 4:18 of the third period.
The Blazers, however, continue their policy of not making anyone in the organization available to this reporter, who thus wasn't able to speak with Smith.
The Blazers improved to 20-20-2 and now have won five of seven games since the Christmas break, with all five victories over conference opponents. The Blazers and Kelowna Rockets, who fell 3-1 to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., are tied for sixth in the conference.
Kamloops is in Kelowna tonight.
The Bruins, meanwhile, have lost four in a row and have fallen into the conference cellar, four points out of a playoff spot.
This was not a game loaded with footage fit for a highlight reel. In fact, the ISC boards likely are sore this morning. There was a lot of chip it in and chip it out one way, and chip it out and chip it in the other way.
And, in the end, the Bruins had a chance but feel they had it taken away from them early in the third period. The way the visitors saw it, they should have been on the power play when the Blazers scored their fourth goal to all but put this one in the safe.
The Bruins felt that Kamloops defenceman Austin Madaisky should have been penalized for checking from behind after putting Bruins forward Tim Traber hard into the end boards in the Blazers zone.
"That was a check from behind. Without question," Marc Habscheid, the Bruins' general manager and head coach, offered.
Neither referee - Ryan Benbow or Trevor Hanson - chose to make the call.
"They thought he tripped, I think," Habscheid said. "That was textbook (checking from behind)."
Benbow heard from Habscheid right after the non-call; Hanson heard from him after the Blazers scored.
While the Bruins thought they should have been headed to the power play, the Blazers moved the puck up ice and finished the play with Smith scoring his third goal.
"Game over," Habscheid said.
The Blazers all but owned the first period, but emerged with only a 3-2 lead despite having a 15-5 edge in shots.
"That first period was not good," Habscheid said. "I'll say that nicely. It wasn't good from a work ethic or a passion standpoint."
"A game like this . . . division game . . . you have to be able to show up," said Chilliwack centre Kevin Sundher. "We had our worst period in the first period . . . worst period of the season. We didn't do enough. We still had a chance but we didn't do enough."
Right-winger Jordan DePape had the Blazers' other first-period goal, while Dylan Willick scored an empty-netter late in the third. Steve Oursov and Sundher scored for the Bruins.
Chilliwack goaltender Lucas Gore, a Kamloops native who had been 4-1 in his last five appearances against the Blazers, finished with 25 saves. At the other end, Jeff Bosch turned aside 16.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers were 1-for-6 on the PP; the Bruins were 1-for-4. . . . Smith's hat trick was the third three-goal game by a Kamloops player this season. LW Brendan Ranford and D Brady Gaudet have the others. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Smith: His night; 2. Willick: Works so hard; 3. Oursov: Brought his lunch bucket. . . . The Blazers were without D Josh Caron (collarbone, two weeks) and C Chase Schaber (leg, day-to-day). Schaber was injured in the third period of Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Bruins are at home to Seattle on Sunday.
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