Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Daily News Sports Editor

The Kamloops Blazers will try to run the table on the Vancouver Giants this week.
The two WHL teams are scheduled to meet eight times this regular season. With six of those games out of the way, the Blazers are 6-0-0, having outscored the Giants, 29-10.
Vancouver, which at 16-45-2 has the league’s poorest record, will be at Interior Savings tonight and again Saturday. Both games are to begin at 7 o’clock.
In between, the Blazers will travel to Prince George for a Friday night date with the Cougars (18-36-8).
The Blazers (41-17-5) have won eight of their last 10 games, but have been shut out in two of their last three outings — 3-0 by the visiting Portland Winterhawks a week ago and 2-0 by the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday. On Friday night, the Blazers went into Vancouver and won 6-0 in a game that was televised nationally by Rogers Sportsnet.
The Blazers are five points behind the B.C. Division-leading Kelowna Rockets, with each team having nine games to play. They still must play each other three times, starting with a game here Sunday.
“If we continue to play the way we have been, we’ll live with whatever position we’re left with,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said. “It’s more about how we play and the consistency in our play. Right now, we’re not giving up a lot of scoring chances. We’re playing well defensively and that’s important to me.”
The Blazers are expected to start Taran Kozun in goal tonight, ending a stretch of 14 consecutive starts by Cole Cheveldave, who went 11-3-0.
Kozun, an 18-year-old in his first WHL season, last played on Jan. 19 when he went 43:01, giving up four goals on 15 shots, in a 5-4 loss to the visiting Victoria Royals.
“Taran has to play now,” Charron said. “He’s got to get his feet wet and we feel confident that he can do the job. He’s had some good practices . . . he’s been working hard.
“He’s a good goalie. We’re not faced with playing someone we don’t have any confidence in.”
Kamloops F Brendan Ranford is scheduled to play in his 340th regular-season game tonight. That is one shy of the franchise record held by F C.J. Stretch (2005-10).
Ranford is on schedule to tie the record Friday in Prince George and break it here Saturday.
JUST NOTES: Vancouver D Wes Vannieuwenhuizen drew a one-game suspension for a hit on Kamloops F JC Lipon that drew a boading major and game misconduct during Friday’s game. Vannieuwenhuizen served his suspension in Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds so is eligible to play tonight. . . . The Blazers will be without F Aspen Sterzer (concussion), who last played on Dec. 29, and F Matt Needham (undisclosed). Needham  has missed the last four games.

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