The Seattle Thunderbirds’ top line scored two goals Wednesday night but it was a goal by the fourth-line that really stung the Kamloops Blazers in a 3-1 loss at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash.
Keegan Kolesar, who plays on a line with Kamloops native Ryan Gropp and Mathew Barzal, scored twice for Seattle, but it was a goal by centre Matthew Wedman that stood up as the winner as the Blazers lost for the second time in two nights.
Kamloops, which is 1-5-1 in its last seven games, opened a three-game U.S. Division trip with a 5-3 loss to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., on Tuesday. The swing concludes Friday against the Everett Silvertips.
Kolesar put the Thunderbirds out front with a power-play goal at 14:25 of the first period.
Wedman’s sixth goal of the season came at 8:47 of the second. He works on the fourth line, alongside Nick Holowko and Josh Uhrich. That line pressured the Blazers, who couldn’t clear their zone, until Wedman finally was able to take advantage of a Uhrich rebound.
The Thunderbirds nursed that 2-0 lead into the third period, only to have Kamloops centre Matt Needham get his guys to within one just 20 seconds into the period. Needham came out from behind the Seattle net and beat goaltender Landon Bow with a high shot for his 15th goal this season.
The Blazers had chances but Bow had the rest of the answers, until Kolesar iced it with his 26th goal into an empty net at
19:10 of the third period.
Gropp assisted on both of Kolesar’s goals, giving him points in seven straight games and 12 of 13. He also has four goals and three assists in three games, all Seattle victories, against the Blazers this season.
Left-winger Collin Shirley, who leads the Blazers with 29 goals, was beaten by Bow on two breakaways, one as he stepped out of the penalty box in the first period and another in the third, with the score 2-1.
Bow, who was acquired by Seattle from the Swift Current Broncos at the trade deadline in January, finished with 28 saves, three more than Connor Ingram of the Blazers.
The loss didn’t impact the playoff chances of the Blazers (23-20-8), who continue to hold down the 10-team Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. They remain two points ahead of the Portland Winterhawks, who lost 3-2 to the host Everett Silvertips last night.
The Thunderbirds (28-19-3) are second in the U.S. Division but weren’t able to gain any ground. They are five points behind first-place Everett and four ahead of the Spokane Chiefs, who beat the Giants 6-2 in Vancouver.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 4,227. . . . The Blazers were 0-for-4 on the power play going against the WHL’s top penalty-killing team. . . . The Thunderbirds were 1-for-2 with the man advantage. . . . The Blazers scratched injured D Ryan Rehill, F Matt Campese, who was shaken up in Tuesday’s game, and F Erik Miller. . . . D Jerret Smith, Seattle’s captain, was among the Thunderbirds’ scratches. He is out after taking being hit from behind from Everett F Remi Laurencelle on Saturday night. Smith didn’t play Sunday night after having played in 220 straight regular-season games. Including playoff games, he had played in 242 consecutive games. . . . Laurencelle ended up with a three-game suspension that will end after he sits out Everett’s game against the Blazers on Friday. . . . With Smith and D Jarret Tyszka both injured, Seattle signed D Jared Pelechaty, 17, from the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives and he made his debut last night. . . . The Thunderbirds beat the host Blazers 4-3 in OT on Nov. 20 and won 7-2 in Kent on Oct. 16. The season series is to conclude in Kamloops on Feb. 28.
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