By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Perhaps the Kamloops Blazers should have put Colton Canuel in the starting lineup.
Canuel, 6, was part of the pregame show Wednesday night at Interior Savings Centre. He was the Tim Hortons Timbits player chosen to skate with the Blazers and stand at the blue-line with the starting lineup during the singing of O Canada.
He drew quite an ovation, too, as he chose to drag out his appearance as long as he could. As it turned out, that was the evening’s highlight for Blazers fans as their favourites then went out and absorbed a 7-3 licking at the hands of the defending WHL-champion Kootenay Ice.
The Ice, playing its fourth game in five nights, scored six second-period goals on eight shots on two goaltenders in a span of 14 minutes 25 seconds to bury the Blazers, who had been off since Saturday.
This also was the Ice’s fourth straight victory, following triumphs in Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George. The Ice completes its rampage through the B.C. Division Friday in Kelowna.
Things went wrong for Kamloops right from the get-go as it lost defenceman Josh Caron at 1:16 of the first period. He was ejected for a check — a firmly placed elbow — to the head of Kootenay centre Max Reinhart.
Still, the Blazers gave up just one goal on the ensuing five-minute power play and, when left-winger Tim Bozon scored later, the home boys were able to escape the first period in a 1-1 draw.
But the visitors are the defending champions for a reason — let them see your jugular and they’ll bite you — and two early second-period power-play goals stretched the lead to 3-1 and, for all intents and purposes, all that was left was the 50-50 draw.
The fourth Ice goal kind of summed up the Blazers’ night. With a faceoff in the neutral zone, the Blazers moved defenceman Austin Madaisky to right wing, with right-winger J.C. Lipon moving back. Kootenay’s Jesse Ismond won the faceoff forward and Dylen McKinlay broke in alone, going through the space where Madaisky might have been, and scored.
Following that goal, Kamloops head coach Guy Charron yanked goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who was making his third straight start, and sent in Cam Lanigan. However, Lanigan gave up three goals on four shots and Cheveldave re-entered the fray.
In the end, the two combined for 15 saves, while Kootenay’s Nathan Lieuwen turned aside 25 shots in a steady showing.
Drew Czerwonka, Ismond, Max Reinhart, Sam Reinhart, Brock Montgomery and Joe Antilla scored for the Ice (17-5-3), which is tied for the WHL’s overall lead with the idle Saskatoon Blades.
Brendan Ranford and Bronson Maschmeyer added third-period goals for Kamloops (14-7-1), which remains fourth in the Western Conference.
The Blazers get a chance to get back on track with home games on Friday (Victoria Royals) and Saturday (Seattle Thunderbirds).
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 3,895. . . . The Ice was 3-for-4 on the PP; the Blazers were 2-for-4, with both goals coming in the third period long after the issue had been settled. . . . The Reinhart brothers, Max and Sam, don’t have their first initials on their Ice jerseys. General manager Jeff Chynoweth says he ordered them but the brothers told him they don’t want them. . . . The Daily News’ Three Stars: 1. F Sam Reinhart: A goal and three assists; he turned 16 on Nov. 6; 2. Ismond: Was in the middle of everything; 3. Ice D John Neibrandt: Steady back there.
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