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Blazers open U.S. swing with loss

Americans get rolling with two early goals
February 2, 2016 11:04 P.M.

The Kamloops Blazers’ three-game journey into the WHL’s U.S. Division got off to a shaky start on Tuesday night.
The Tri-City Americans struck for two goals in the game’s first three minutes and went on to beat the Blazers, 5-3, at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash.
Freshman forward Morgan Geekie got the Americans rolling towards their fifth straight home-ice victory with his eighth goal, taking a pass from Tri-City scoring leader Parker Bowles and beating goaltender Connor Ingram.
Then, just 1:30 later, it was left-winger Mackenze Stewart, a recent assignee by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, scoring his second goal as he beat Ingram off a rebound for a 2-0 lead. Stewart has goals in two straight games.
Russian forward Vladislav Lukin upped the home team’s lead to 3-0 at 15:43 of the third period.
The Blazers, then, really were in chase mode for the remainder of this game and the hole simple proved too deep.
Kamloops outscored Tri-City 2-1 in the second period, getting two power-play goals, to get to within two, at 4-2, but that was as close as the visitors could manoeuvre.
Kamloops winger Matt Revel’s 15th goal and centre Gage Quinney’s 19th sandwiched the Americans’ fourth goal, which was Bowles’ 29th of the season.
Tri-City freshman Michael Rasmussen added his11th at 8:15 of the third, before Kamloops left-winger Collin Shirley scored his team-leading 29th goal at 18:15.
Ingram finished with 24 saves, nine fewer than Evan Sarthou of the Americans.
While the Blazers (23-19-8) remain in possession of the 10-team Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, this was an especially important victory for the Americans (23-25-2) as it lifted them to within four points of a playoff spot.
The idle Portland Winterhawks (25-23-2) hold down the conference’s second wild-card spot, but now are just four points ahead of the Americans and six in back of the Blazers.
Kamloops continues its brief U.S. Division trip tonight when it meets the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. The Thunderbirds (27-19-3) are second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the first-place Everett Silvertips (29-16-4) and four ahead of the Spokane Chiefs (24-20-5).
The Blazers complete this road trip in Everett on Friday and return home to face the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday, 5 p.m.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 2,686. . . . The Blazers were 2-for-4 on the power play; the Americans were 0-for-2. . . . Kamloops F Garrett Pilon earned two assists. . . . The Blazers scratched injured D Ryan Rehill, who isn’t on the trip with them, F Spencer Bast and F Eric Miller. . . . The Americans hold a 2-1-0 edge in the season series — the Blazers are 1-1-1 — that is to conclude in Kennewick on March 8.
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