What a difference a year makes!
Last season, the Kamloops Blazers made two trips to Spokane and lost twice to the Chiefs — 10-1 and 10-5.
That was then and this is now. On Friday night, left-winger Tim Bozon scored early in the third period, giving the Blazers a 2-1 WHL victory over the host Chiefs (9-5-3), who are 9-2-0 at home this season.
Bozon, a freshman from Switzerland, scored his seventh goal of the season at 1:03 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie and giving the Blazers their second straight victory.
It was Bozon’s second game-winner of the season and his second in two games. He got the winner Saturday in a 5-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Blazers (14-6-0) will meet the Tri-City Americans in Richland, Wash., tonight, then return home to face the defending-champion Kootenay Ice on Wednesday night. The Americans (15-6-0) dropped a 3-0 decision to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., last night.
In Spokane, the Chiefs struck first, with Colin Valcourt scoring at 4:43 of the first period. He scored on the Chiefs’ third shot of the game.
Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave slammed shut the door after that, finishing with 28 saves. That included a first-period save on Spokane captain Darren Kramer, who was the beneficiary of a penalty shot.
Cheveldave, an 18-year-old freshman from Calgary who once was on Spokane’s protected list, improved his record to 7-2-0.
The Blazers pulled even at 9:36 of the first period when winger Dylan Willick struck for the club’s WHL-leading ninth shorthanded goal this season. They scored four such goals all of last season.
At one point, some of the 5,106 fans in attendance booed the home team.
“Fans pay to watch that,” Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur told Dave Trimmer of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “Just so the fans know, I was booing them too. We had four fourth-lines tonight.”
Nachbaur was most unhappy by what he saw from his club, which hadn’t played since Saturday.
“Too long of layoff is an excuse,” he said. “We worked hard all week, come into the game and we don’t work. We stand around and watch. We did not skate. The bottom line with our hockey team is we’re not a hard-working team, we’re a lazy team. We played lazy.”
JUST NOTES: Kamloops had lost its last five games in Spokane. It last won there on Nov. 29, 2008, when it beat the Chiefs, 4-2. . . . The Blazers scratched RW Jordan DePape (shoulder), D Landon Cross, D Brady Gaudet and F Cole Ully. . . . Among the spectators was former Blazers D Brandon Underwood, who was dealt to the Regina Pats over the summer. The Pats play in Spokane tonight. . . . Kamloops F Colin Smith, who played for the WHL in a 5-2 victory over Russia in a Subway Super Series game in Regina on Wednesday, flew into Spokane on Thursday. He set up Bozon’s winner last night, and also had the fourth fight of his career, this one with F Steve Kuhn. . . . In Regina, Smith roomed with Spokane D Brendan Kichton. They are friends from Edmonton. . . . F Brock Balson, who is from Kamloops, played his first game with the Blazers after joining them from the BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks. He wore No. 25.
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