The Kamloops Blazers continued their rampage through the WHL’s East Division as they dumped the Regina Pats, 4-3, in the Brandt Centre on Tuesday night.
The victory was the Blazers’ third in as many starts on the six-game swing that will continue tonight in Brandon against the Wheat Kings. In those three games, the Blazers have outscored the opposition, 15-7.
The Blazers (15-10-4) now are 15-4-4 since losing their first six games of the season. They remain seventh in the 10-team Western Conference, but have closed to within one point of the idle Spokane Chiefs (16-12-3).
The Pats (15-14-4) are seventh in the 12-team Eastern Conference.
While the Blazers were playing their third game in five nights, the Pats, who had lost four of their previous five games, were playing for the fourth time in five nights and the fifth time in seven nights.
The Blazers got off to a 2-0 lead on goals by centres Gage Quinney and Matt Needham. Quinney, who has 14 goals, got
Kamloops rolling at 3:02 and Needham, who had four assists in Saturday’s 5-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders, made it 2-0 off a Garrett Pilon pass at 16:19. That was Needham’s eighth goal of the season.
The Pats got on the board at 19:52 as highly touted forward Sam Steel got his 10th goal, via a power play.
Kamloops dominated much of the opening period, as it held an 8-0 edge in shots mid-way through.
“The way we played in the first period, (the players) must be absolutely tone deaf,” John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “They play a fast game. I knew that from watching them practise. We didn’t have many players (keeping pace) in the first period. It was really bad.”
The Blazers took control with two second-period goals. Pilon got his ninth goal, scoring while shorthanded at 12:20, and left-winger Collin Shirley got scored his team-high 21st at 14:38.
The Blazers ended up on their heels in the third period and the Pats cut their deficit to one on goals from defenceman Chase Harrison, at 7:10, and forward Adam Brooks, at 12:40.
The Blazers’ effort to protect the one-goal lead was hampered when Ryan Rehill, their best 5-on-5 defender, was hit with a misconduct penalty at 13:22.
The Blazers were outshot 16-5 in the third period but goaltender Connor Ingram, who was making his eighth straight
start, stood tall. He has started all 12 of the Blazers’ road games this season, although freshman Dylan Ferguson likely will make his fourth start tonight in Brandon.
Ingram finished with 39 saves, 12 more than Regina’s Tyler Brown.
“It was almost like three different games out there,” Don Hay, the Blazers’ head coach, told Harder. “We controlled the first and the second was kind of even but we struck for a couple quick goals. Then they controlled the third. Once they made it 4-2 the race was on to see who would get the next goal.”
After Regina cut the deficit to one, it just wasn’t able to get that next goal.
“They really pushed us,” Hay said. “We weren’t as good in the third as we needed to be and we didn’t put them away when we had the opportunity. They just kept coming at us. Give them credit. They played hard.”
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 3,267. . . . The Blazers were 0-for-2 on the power play; the Pats were 1-for-3. . . . Kamloops now is 6-5-1 away from home. . . . The Blazers scratched F Matt Campese, D Conner McDonald and D Patrik Maier, who is in the Slovakian national junior team’s selection camp. . . . D Sergey Zborovskiy was among Regina’s scratches. He is in Moscow at the Russian national junior team’s selection camp. . . . When the Blazers skated on Monday, they had four prospects on the ice with them — D Devan Harrison of Dysart, Sask., a second-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft; D Tylor Ludwar, 15, of Regina; F Carson Denomie, 15, also of Regina, who was a fifth-round pick in 2015; and F Jake Tremblay of Pense, Sask., who was taken in the seventh round in 2015. Harrison has already signed with Kamloops. . . .
F Cole Ully, 20, who is eligible to play for the Blazers, has moved from the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads to the AHL’s Texas Stars. Ully, who is in the first season of a three-year deal with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, had a goal and four assists in five games with Texas when he was sent to Idaho to get more playing time. He had a goal and five assists in six games with the Steelheads. . . . Mark Recchi, one of the Blazers’ five owners, is doing some coach with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who fired head coach Mike Johnston on Saturday. Mike Sullivan, the head coach of the Baby Pens, was moved up to Pittsburgh. Recchi, Pittsburgh’s player development coach, will help out Jay Leach, the AHL team’s new head coach, on occasion.