Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blazers complete great road trip

The Kamloops Blazers continued their ransacking of the WHL’s Central Division teams Saturday night, scoring an 8-5 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook.
The game was the fifth in a five-game swing through that division by the Blazers, who went 4-0-1, winning three times in overtime and losing once in extra time.
This season, the Blazers are 9-2-1 against Central Division teams, including 8-1-1 on the road.
Missing defencemen Josh Caron (suspended), Austin Madaisky (neck) and Brandon Underwood (knee), and centre Chase Schaber (leg), the Blazers got a goal and two assists from winger Jordan DePape, who once again played on the back end and finished plus-4.
Centre Dylan Willick scored two goals for the second straight game and now has 22. Forwards Logan McVeigh, Ryan Hanes and Chase Souto each added his fourth goal, with winger J.T. Barnett and centre Dalibor Bortnak each getting his 12th.
Hanes hadn’t scored in 31 games, while McVeigh ended a 23-game drought and Souto, who later left with apparent concussion symptoms, had gone 12 games without scoring. McVeigh also had an assist, for the first two-point night of his freshman season.
The Ice, which trailed 2-1 and 6-3 by periods, got goals from Hayden Rintoul, Kevin King, Cody Eakin, Steele Boomer and Joe Antilla.
Boomer and Antilla scored in the first five minutes of the third period to get the Ice to within one, but Bortnak restored the Blazers’ two-goal lead with a power-play goal at 8:19 and DePape added a shorthanded empty-netter at 19:28.
Kamloops goaltender Jeff Bosch, making his 16th straight start, was solid again, this time with 41 saves.
The Ice started backup Brett Teskey, but sent in Nathan Lieuwen after Hanes gave the visitors a 3-1 lead at 3:54 of the second period. Teskey stopped six of nine shots; Lieuwen turned aside 11 of 15.
The Blazers (29-31-4) are tied for seventh with the Prince George Cougars in the Western Conference, one point behind the Everett Silvertips.
A seventh-place finish would mean a first-round playoff matchup with the conference’s second seed. That spot goes to the B.C. Division pennant winner and, right now, it belongs to the Kelowna Rockets, who are two points ahead of the Vancouver Giants.
Coincidentally, the Blazers’ next game is Wednesday against the visiting Rockets. Game time is 7 p.m.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers have gone 8-3-1 since snapping a five-game losing streak. . . . F Colin Smith, who had three goals and an assist in Friday’s improbable 6-5 OT victory in Medicine Hat, had two assists against the Ice. The 17-year-old sophomore, with seven points over his last three games, has 20 goals and 26 assists in 64 games. Last season, he finished with five and 21 in 48 games. . . . Willick has 16 points, including nine goals, and zero penalty minutes over his last 14 games. . . . Despite Cranbrook and Kamloops both being in B.C., the Blazers hadn’t played there since Dec. 10, 2008. . . . Kamloops F Thomas Frazee had one assist, giving him 10 points on the road trip. . . . The Blazers were 2-for-6 on the PP; they went 11-for-30 in the five games, while limiting the opposition to two goals in 29 PP opportunities. . . . If Souto is found to have a concussion, it will be his second one this season. The 16-year-old from Yorba Linda, Calif., missed seven games with a concussion early in the season. . . . Caron has served his three-game suspension, for a hit from behind on Red Deer F Josh Cowen, and will be eligible to play Wednesday.

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