Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blazers run winning streak to 14

Colin Smith (9) stands to the left of celebrating teammates after his
shootout goal gave the Kamloops Blazers a 3-2 victory over the
host Everett Silvertips on Tuesday night.

Daily News Sports Editor
Move over, 1986-87.
You’re outta here, 1989-90.
The 2012-13 edition of the Kamloops Blazers wrote its name in the franchise record book Tuesday night, beating the host Everett Silvertips 3-2 on a shootout goal by centre Colin Smith at Comcast Arena.
“It’s amazing,” offered Kamloops head coach Guy Charron. “We keep finding ways to win.”
This was the Blazers’ 14th consecutive WHL victory, erasing the record first established by the 1986-87 team and equalled in 1989-90. Mark Recchi, one of the team’s five co-owners, played 40 games with the Blazers in 1986-87; Darryl Sydor, another owner, played 67 games with the 1989-90 team.
The 1986-87 Blazers began their streak with a 7-6 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 21. They got to 13 with a 15-8 victory over the visiting Victoria Cougars on Nov. 21. The streak ended the next night with a 6-5 loss in Victoria. The Blazers finished 55-14-3, good for first place in the six-team West Division, but then lost a best-of-nine conference final to Portland in eight games.
In 1989-90, the streak also began on Oct. 21, this time with a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. On Nov. 18, the Blazers hit 13 in a row by beating the Tigers 5-1 in Medicine Hat. One night later, Kamloops was beaten 10-8 by the host Lethbridge Broncos. The Blazers went 56-16-0 to win the West Division and later beat Lethbridge 4-1 in the WHL’s championship final.
This season, the Blazers are 16-0-1. The only blemish is a 4-3 shootout loss to the Royals in Victoria on Sept. 28. Two nights later, the Blazers beat the host Royals 3-0 and Kamloops hasn’t looked back.
The Blazers already lead the B.C. Division by 15 points and are 11 points clear atop the Western Conference standings.
Smith was the only one of the shootout’s six particpants to score.
"It wasn't our best game, but the important thing is we found a way to win," Smith told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald. "Any time you're able to put your stamp on things in club history, as much history as we have, it's something special for our group."
Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said Everett head coach Mark Ferner and his staff put together a game plan that often frustrated the Blazers. 
“I thought Everett played very well,” Charron said. “They really clogged up the neutral zone. It’s something no team had done to us before so credit to Mark.
“We got frustrated from it. . . . the kids were a little frustrated. We were constantly turning the puck over.”
"We can't be happy with the outcome, but we're definitely happy with the effort," Everett captain Ryan Murray told Patterson. "We did all the right things out there and I thought we played a great game. But when you're playing a team that good, even if you play a great game it still might not go your way."
Everett opened the scoring when forward Ryan Harrison scored while his side was enjoying a two-man advantage at 9:12 of the first period.
The Blazers had a golden opportunity to pull even at 18:19 when Dylan Willick was awarded a penalty shot. However, the veteran centre fired the puck over the Everett net.
The Blazers thought they had pulled even in the second period when left-winger Chase Souto tipped in a shot from defenceman Tyler Hansen. However, referee Mike Campbell ruled that the puck had been deflected by a high stick and video review upheld that decision.
Right-winger JC Lipon, who leads the WHL in goals (16) and points (40), pulled the Blazers even at 9:48 of the third period, only to have Everett forward Carson Stadnyk score 1:05 later.
Stadnyk, a 17-year-old freshman from Saskatoon, scored his first WHL goal in his 16th game this season.
Souto got the Blazers even again, scoring his second goal of the season at 14:39. Smith drew an assist on Souto’s goal to run his point streak to 17 games.
“When they scored the second goal, I thought, ‘Oh, maybe’,” Charron admitted. “But Souts came up with a big goal and we found a way in the shootout.”
Interestingly, Souto had been a healthy scratch from a couple of recent games.
"We knew they were going to get their opportunities, but at the same time I thought we did a good job just containing them and protecting the areas we need to protect," Ferner told Patterson.
"Our veterans were very good tonight, our rookies were very good. Obviously we were missing some key bodies and that did hurt us at the end. But the other guys stepped up. I thought we were good right from our goalie out."
The Blazers got a big game from their penalty killers and from goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who ran his record to 11-0-0.
“I know we gave up one (power-play goal), but two 5-on-3s. . . they did an exceptional job,” Charron said. “The penalty killers came through tonight, for sure.”
So did Cheveldave, who stopped 20 shots through overtime and three more in the shootout.
“He’s a big part of penalty kill,” Charron said. “He’s a big part of a lot of things.”
The Blazers are back in action Thursday when they meet the Rockets in Kelowna. Kamloops is at home to the Prince George Cougars on Friday. Game time at Interior Savings Centre is 7 p.m.
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 3,074. . . . The Blazers were 0-for-4 on the PP; the Silvertips were 1-for-8. . . . Everett G Austin Lotz stopped 26 shots. . . . F Aspen Sterzer was back with the Blazers after missing three games while attending a funeral in Calgary. . . . The Blazers scratched D Tyler Bell (undisclosed), F Mitch Friesen (undisclosed), D Jordan Thomson and F Aaron Macklin. . . . The Silvertips were without D Nick Walters (WHL suspension), F Josh Winquist (flu) and D Austin Adam (hand).

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