|Kamloops head coach Guy Charron (left) and assistant|
Geoff Smith talk to the troops during a timeout.
(Photo by Murray Mitchell/Kamloops Daily News)
By GREGG DRINNANThe Kamloops Blazers’ infirmary, almost clear of forwards, has started to admit defencemen.
Daily News Sports Editor
Daily News Sports Editor
The Blazers lost two defencemen Friday night but they won the WHL game at Interior Savings Centre, beating the Chilliwack Bruins 2-1 on a third-period power-play goal off the stick of right-winger Jordan DePape.
The Blazers (23-29-3) are eighth in the 10-team Western Conference, three points behind the Everett Silvertips. But the Bruins (21-26-4), who have lost seven in a row, now reside in the cellar, a point behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who scored a 3-2 overtime victory in Everett last night.
The Blazers and Bruins will play again tonight, too, this time in Chilliwack. It will be the third game between these teams in a week, and the Blazers will be going for a sweep.
But three defencemen who started this one may not suit up tonight.
The Blazers have just gotten forwards Dalibor Bortnak and DePape back and hope to have captain Chase Schaber back on Wednesday when they entertain the Seattle Thunderbirds.
But, tonight, they definitely will be without Brandon Underwood, who left at 3:30 of the first period with an injury to his left knee that head coach Guy Charron later described as possibly “long-term.”
Kamloops also may be without Austin Madaisky, who was driven backwards into the Chilliwack end boards by Bruins defenceman Brandon Manning at 8:01 of the third period. Madaisky appeared to be severely winded on the play and Charron later said that the veteran defenceman was sore. Whether Madaisky plays tonight may well be a game-time decision.
Manning, meanwhile, almost certainly will be hit with at least a one-game WHL suspension.
The last time Manning played in Kamloops, on Jan. 21, he scored a power-play goal in overtime as the Bruins won, 3-2. That was their last victory.
Last night, Manning was in the dressing room when the winner was scored.
Nine seconds after he had been ejected, the Blazers broke a 1-1 tie when DePape, playing his second game after missing eight with a leg injury, pounded a Brendan Ranford rebound past Chilliwack goaltender Lucas Gore for his 17th goal of the season. It also was DePape’s team-high sixth game-winning goal in 37 games.
Until that goal, it looked like Gore, a 20-year-old from Kamloops, wasn’t going to give up a second goal. He finished with 33 saves, including an amazing right-pad save on Dylan Willick off a Ranford pass nine minutes into the second period, an unbelievable glove save on Ryan Hanes with 15 seconds left in that period and a left-pad stop on DePape at 12:04 of the third.
Gore’s save on his buddy Hanes, who also is from Kamloops, was one of those head-shakers.
“Don’t even ask me about that one. I’ll be hearing about it all summer,” said Hanes, with a laugh.
Gore, who was looking to tie his single-season franchise record with his 20th victory, was the only reason the outcome was in doubt as long as it was.
The Blazers ended up going 2-for-10 on the power play, as Gore was easily his club’s best penalty killer. Early in the second period, the Blazers enjoyed a two-man advantage for 1:23 and absolutely peppered Gore, but with no success.
“He did great,” Kamloops defenceman Bronson Maschmeyer said. “He’s a great goaltender. He kept them in this one.”
The Bruins actually held an 11-9 edge in shots after the first period but, thanks to the power plays, the Blazers had the first 12 shots of the second period.
As Charron said, though, the Blazers “allowed them to stay in the game longer than we would have liked to.”
Centre Colin Smith gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead when he beat Gore with a power-play wrist shot from the slot at 6:24 of the first period.
The Bruins got that one back less than three minutes later when forward Ryan Howse went in alone to beat goaltender Jeff Bosch, who finished with 24 saves.
From that point until DePape’s goal, it was the Lucas Gore Show.
“We’re pressing to score,” Charron said, “and they’re not coming easy.”
JUST NOTES: Referees Trent Knorr and Sean Raphael gave the Bruins nine of 16 minors, three of five majors and game misconduct. . . . The Bruins were 0-for-6 on the power play. . . . Attendance was 4,287 . . . The Blazers hold a 3-2-1 edge in the season series. They also will play in Chilliwack on March 5. . . . G Taran Kozun, who is backing up Bosch with Cam Lanigan (concussion) sidelined, will return to the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos after tonight’s game in Chilliwack. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Gore — only reason it was close in the third; 2. Hanes — Lots of grit; 3. Kamloops F Ryan Hanes — Lots of grit; 3. Gore — Outstanding. . . . The Blazers play host to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday, then leave Friday for Whitehorse where they will play a ‘home’ game against the Vancouver Giants on Saturday.
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