First, the Kamloops Blazers lost defenceman Austin Madaisky to a WHL suspension.Then, they lost their captain, Chase Schaber, to a skate cut.
Then they scored six times in the second period and went on to beat the host Victoria Royals 7-5 on Tuesday night in Game 3 of a first-round WHL playoff series.
The Blazers, who got a goal and three assists from centre Colin Smith, lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 with Game 4 in Victoria tonight.
Kamloops last won a playoff series in the spring of 1999 when it eliminated the Tri-City Americans in the Western Conference final. Since then, the Blazers have lost 10 first-round series; in two other seasons, they didn’t make the playoffs.
Madaisky, a veteran defenceman who plays on the penalty kill and the power play, was suspended for two games on Monday for a check to the head of Victoria forward Zane Jones in Game 2 on Saturday.
Early in the first period last night, Jones and Schaber came together near the boards and the Blazers captain immediately headed for the bench. He then needed help from trainer Colin Robinson and assistant trainer Pete Friedel to get to the dressing room.
Schaber was taken to hospital with a cut leg. He was to spend the night there and undergo further examination today. He isn’t expected to play tonight. Schaber, who missed the last six games of the regular season with a leg injury, had two goals and two assists in the first two games of this series.
After Schaber left, the Royals scored the game’s first two goals and took that 2-0 lead into the second period.
But the Blazers owned the second periods of the first two games and that script held up again last night. Kamloops outscored its hosts 6-2 in the second period, meaning the Blazers have scored 14 of their 18 goals in this series in the middle 20 minutes.
Victoria actually took a 4-3 lead when Jamie Crooks scored his third goal of the game at 8:26 of the second period.
But the Blazers got a power-play goal from Jordan DePape at 14:55, with Matt Needham scoring his team’s second shorthanded goal of the night at 17:26 and J.C. Lipon adding another PP goal at 18:48.
Dylan Willick, Tim Bozon and Landon Cross also scored for the Blazers. After being a healthy scratch the first two games, Cross was in the lineup in Madaisky’s absence.
Jones and Austin Carroll had Victoria’s other goals in front of 5,255 fans.
JUST NOTES: Including regular-season games, the Blazers now are 10-1 against the Royals and have outscored them, 57-31. . . . The Blazers last won a road playoff game on March 25, 2005 when F Terrance Delaronde scored 16 seconds into OT for a 4-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice. Since then, Kamloops had been 0-10 on the road. . . . The Blazers scratched Madaisky, G Taran Kozun, F Cole Ully and F Brock Balson. . . . F Chase Souto went in for Ully, who is likely to play tonight in place of Schaber. . . . The Royals scratched D Zach Habscheid (high ankle sprain), F Brandon McGee (foot), F Taylor Crunk (undisclosed) and D Kade Pilton. With Crunk out, F Lukas Kralik got in for the first time in the series. . . .
The Portland Winterhawks got two goals and two assists from each of F Ty Rattie and F Sven Baertschi in beating the Rockets 6-3 in Kelowna last night. The Winterhawks take a 3-0 lead into Game 4 on Thursday. Should Portland and Kamloops win out, they would meet in the second round, with the Winterhawks holding home-ice advantage. . . . In Spokane, the Chiefs beat the Vancouver Giants 3-2 and now trail 2-1 in the series. The Chiefs are without D Brenden Kichton, the Western Conference’s defenceman of the year. He has undergone surgery in Vancouver for a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face early in the third period of Game 1 on Friday. Kichton remains in hospital awaiting medical clearance to travel to his family’s home in Spruce Grove, Alta. . . . In the other Western Conference series, G Ty Rimmer stopped 23 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 4-0 victory over the host Everett Silvertips. The Americans lead the series, 3-0.
F Spencer Asuchak of the Prince George Cougars, who is from Kamloops, made his pro debut last night with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign, as it lost 3-0 to the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colo. Asuchak, 20, had two shots on goal. . . . G Damien Ketlo, who played out his WHL eligibility with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, stopped 27 shots to record his first pro shutout and was the game’s first star.
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