Collin Shirley’s 27th goal of this WHL season was a winner.
Shirley, a 19-year-old left winger from Saskatoon, scored on a wrap-around play to break a 1-1 tie and give the Kamloops Blazers a 2-1 victory over the host Edmonton Oil Kings.
This was the Blazers’ final game in Rexall Place, which also is home to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. The NHL and WHL
teams will move into a new facility in time for next season.
Shirley leads the Blazers in goals and points (51). He has hit career highs in goals, assists (26) and points. Last season, he finished with 42 points, including 26 goals, in 72 games.
Last night, the winner came at 16:24 of the third period and the Blazers were able to proceed from there to the victory.
The visitors had taken a 1-0 lead at 13:58 of the first period when winger Matt Campese scored his seventh goal of the season, banging in the rebound of a Jermaine Loewen shot. It was Campese’s fourth goal on the five-game road trip that ended with this game.
The Oil Kings tied it on forward Kole Gable’s third goal of the season, at 16:37 of the first period.
The Blazers, who opened the road trip with a doubleheader sweep over the Portland Winterhawks, went 3-1-1 on the trip, picking up seven of a possible 10 points.
The Blazers (22-15-7), who are 5-2-3 in their last 10 games, continue to hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card playoff berth. They are six points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs (20-18-5).
For the Blazers to move out of the wild-card spot, they would have to get into at least third place in the B.C. Division. Right now, they are fourth, five points behind the Prince George Cougars (27-16-2). Kamloops is to play in Prince George on Friday and Saturday nights.
Were the playoffs to begin today, the Blazers would be going up against the Everett Silvertips, the U.S. Division leaders, in the first round. By coincidence, the Silvertips will be the visitors when the Blazers next play at home on Wednesday. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
While the Blazers weren’t especially sharp in Edmonton, they were able to take advantage of the Oil Kings (17-22-7), who were playing their third game in 48 hours — and fourth in five nights. They lost 6-5 in a shootout to the host Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday and were beaten 3-2 in overtime by the Hitmen in Calgary on Saturday.
“From a competitive level, effort standpoint, I was really, really pleased with our guys tonight,” Edmonton head coach Steve Hamilton said on the team’s website. “The fact that we were able to have probably our best period in the third — with the end of a lot of hockey in a short period of time — I thought that was a real telling tale about our group.”
While the Oil Kings were losing in Calgary, the Blazers were at Rexall Place, watching the Oilers beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in a shootout.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 5,289. . . . Kamloops was 0-for-1 on the power play; Edmonton was 0-for-2. . . . Kamloops got another stellar performance from G Connor Ingram, who finished with 34 saves, eight more than Edmonton’s Payton Lee. . . . The Blazers scratched F Gage Quinney, who has missed 12 games, D Dawson Davidson (10), and F Spencer Bast. . . . F Brandon Baddock, who is second on the Oil Kings with 18 goals, was among the scratches. He is serving a WHL suspension after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in Medicine Hat on Friday. Edmonton also scratched F Luke Bertolucci, with and undisclosed injury.