The Kamloops Blazers erupted for four second-period goals, with Saskatchewan natives figuring in all of them, and went on to whip the host Saskatoon Blades 6-2 on Friday night.
This was the start of the Blazers’ six-game swing through the WHL’s East Division. It continues tonight against the Prince Albert Raiders, who didn’t play last night.
“To come back here and play is special to them,” Kamloops head coach Don Hay told 92.9 The Bull’s post-game show, referring to his club’s Saskatchewan contingent. “Hopefully, we can keep it going on this trip.”
The Blades, who have lost five straight games, got the game’s first goal at 10:46 of the first period, something they hadn’t
done in any of their previous nine games. This one came from forward Cameron Hebig, who banged the puck out of mid-air for his 13th goal of the season. Officials went to video review before deciding Hebig’s stick hadn’t been higher than the crossbar.
The Blazers got that one back at 14:59, when centre Gage Quinney went upstairs with a rebound for his 13th goal. Quinney scored immediately after Kamloops goaltender Connor Ingram made three solid stops.
Ingram, who is from Imperial, Sask., was stellar in this one. He finished with 33 saves, including 16 in the first period.
“Connor has just been really solid for us,” Hay told the Saskatoon radio station. “He has been a key guy for us.”
Left-winger Collin Shirley, a Saskatoon native, drew an assist on Quinney’s goal and then scored twice in the second period. His first, at 5:41, broke the 1-1 tie and his second, and team-leading 19th, upped the Kamloops lead to 5-1.
“Shirley played a great game for a hometown kid coming back here,” Hay said.
In between Shirley’s goals, centre Garrett Pilon, another Saskatoon native, and centre Nick Chyzowski, who isn’t from Saskatchewan, beat Blades goaltender Brock Hamm.
Saskatchewan-born players picked up seven points in that second period, with Pilon, Spencer Bast (Macklin), Dawson Davidson (Moosomin) and Matt Revel (Saskatoon) earning assists.
“The second period was obviously very good,” Hay said. “The goal that we got by Quinney in the first was important to tie it up. We seemed to get confidence as the (first) period went on.”
The only Blazers goal that didn’t have a Saskatchewan flavour was their last one. It was unassisted and came from Czech defenceman Ondrej Valaj just 17 seconds into the third period.
Valaj scored on the first shot faced by goaltender Dorrin Luding in his WHL career. The 16-year-old from Prince George was sent into the fray to start the third period, after Hamm had been beaten five times on 25 shots. Luding, who plays for the major midget Cariboo Cougars, finished with 10 saves. He is in Saskatoon while the Blades await the arrival of Evan Smith, who is en route from Sioux City, Iowa, after being acquired in a Thursday trade from the Victoria Royals.
Saskatoon forward Mason McCarty closed out the scoring with 25 seconds left in the third period.
“We haven’t been on the road a lot,” said Hay, whose club was playing only its 10th game away from home this season. “This trip is important to try and get the guys coming together and playing the right way. if we can focus on that, we can do a pretty good job.
“It’s always nice when you can start the trip with a win. It’s a long enough week as it is. When you’re winning, it goes fairly quickly.”
The Blazers, who had lost their previous two games (0-1-1), improved to 13-10-4 and remain seventh in the Western Conference. They are in possession of the conference’s first wild-card playoff spot.
“We face a tough team (Saturday) night in Prince Albert,” Hay said, “a team that has been sitting there waiting for us.”
The Raiders (17-8-3) are third in the Eastern Conference, but just three points from the top rung.
The Blades, who are 3-10-2 at home, slipped to 10-15-3. They have been outscored 25-7 in losing their past five games.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 3,797. . . . The Blazers were 1-for-5 on the power play; the Blades were 0-for-3. . . . Kamloops is 4-5-1 away from home. . . . The Blazers scratched D Cam Reagan, F Erik Miller and D Patrik Maier, who is off to the Slovakian national junior team’s selection camp. . . . The Blades scratched D Jake Kustra and F Logan Christiansen. . . . Saskatoon has returned D Jantzen Leslie, 16, to the midget AAA Lloydminster Bobcats. Leslie was acquired from the Everett Silvertips on Nov. 30. The Silvertips selected him in the first round, 15th overall, of the 2014 bantam draft.
December 12, 2015 01:07am
Why do you quote Saskatoon radio? It would make more sense to quote NL's broadcast. It's a Blazers story therefore it should future quotes from the blazers broadcast not the opposing team.
Awful over site,Gregg