No Connor Ingram? No problem.
With Ingram, the Kamloops Blazers’ starting goaltender and most valuable player, left behind to get some rest, backup Dylan Ferguson stepped in and shut out the host Prince George Cougars, 2-0, on Saturday night in the CN Centre.
The Blazers had clinched third place in the B.C. Division with a 4-1 victory over the Cougars in Kamloops on Friday night.
So head coach Don Hay chose to leave Ingram, defenceman Ryan Rehill and forwards Matt Needham and Gage Quinney at home.
With Ingram out of the picture, Ferguson was given his 11th start of the season, but his first since a 6-3 loss to the Royals in Victoria on Feb. 20.
Ferguson, a 17-year-old freshman from Lantzville, B.C., stopped all 38 shots the Cougars threw his way, including 19 in the third period, in posting his first career shutout and fourth victory.
Centre Nick Chyzowski scored the game’s first goal, his 15th of the season, at 15:15 of the first period. Defenceman Ondrej Vala provided insurance with his fourth goal, at 2:51 of the second period.
Prince George goaltender Nick McBride stopped 35 shots as the Cougars lost their fifth straight game (0-4-1).
The Blazers finished the 72-game regular season by winning their last nine games, leaving them with a 38-25-9 record. That left them in third place in the B.C. Division and matches them against the second-place Kelowna Rockets in the first-round of the playoffs.
That series is to begin with games in Kelowna on Friday and Saturday. The scene will shift to Kamloops for Games 3 and 4 on March 29 and 30. The first of those games is to be played in Memorial Arena, because the IIHF World Women’s Championship has a game — Russia versus Canada — scheduled in the Sandman Centre that evening. Game 4 will be played in the Sandman Centre.
If necessary, Game 5 will be played in Kelowna on April 1, with Game 6 at the Sandman Centre on April 2, and Game 7 back in Kelowna on April 4.
The Cougars, meanwhile, went 36-31-5 and wound up in the 10-team Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. They will meet the Seattle Thunderbirds, who finished atop the U.S. Division, in the first round. That series is to open Friday in Kent, Wash.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 4,463. . . . The Blazers were 0-for-4 on the power play; the Cougars were 0-for-1. . . . The Blazers won the season series, 6-3-1. The Cougars went 4-5-1. . . . Ingram, who started 61 of the team’s 72 games, finished with a .922 save percentage, breaking the franchise record (.920) set by Corey Hirsch in 1991-92. . . . The Blazers also scratched D Luke Zazula, while they got F Jackson Shepard into the lineup. . . . The Cougars were without F Chase Witala, D Luke Zorko, F Kolby Johnson, F Josh Curtis, F Luke Harrison, D Tate Olson, D Josh Anderson and F Kolby Johnson.
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