The Kamloops Blazers are one victory from sweeping Saskatchewan.
Defenceman Dallas Valentine broke a 1-1 tie at 14:50 of the third period on Friday night to give the Blazers a 2-1 victory over the host Moose Jaw Warriors at Mosaic Place.
Valentine, 19, was acquired from the Warriors in a trade earlier this season. The goal was his second of the season, but his first with the Blazers.
“Coming back and playing the guys I think I found a little more energy there.” Valentine told Matthew Gourlie of the
Moose Jaw Times-Herald. “I was trying to jump up every chance I got. I really wanted to score and I did.”
Usually, Valentine is a stay-at-home type, while his partner, Dawson Davidson, is the guy who joins the rush. That wasn’t the case in this one.
"I let him go tonight and let him have the spotlight,” said Davidson, who is a former captain of the midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals. “He was feeding off the energy here. It was good to see him get that goal. I was happy for him.”
The Blazers are 4-1-0 on the six-game tour of the East Division. The only blemish was a 4-3 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Wednesday night.
This is only the fourth time in franchise history that the Blazers have won won four times on the trip; they also did it in 1999-2000, 1995-96 and 1994-95.
The Blazers will conclude their road trip on Saturday night against the Swift Current Broncos and then go into the Christmas break.
Kamloops is to return from the hiatus and play home-and-home with the Kelowna Rockets. They’ll play in Kamloops on Dec. 27 and in Kelowna the following night.
The Blazers improved to 16-11-4, meaning they are 16-5-4 since opening 0-6-0. They now are tied with the Spokane Chiefs (16-13-3) for sixth place in the Western Conference.
The Warriors (16-12-5), who last appeared in the playoffs in the spring of 2012, are sixth in the 10-team Eastern Conference. They were coming off a 1-0 loss to visiting Kelowna on Wednesday.
Last night, the Warriors took a 1-0 lead when forward Tyler Jeannot scored his fourth goal of the season at 15:53 of the first period.
Right-winger Deven Sideroff pulled the Blazers even with his ninth goal just 44 seconds into the second period. Garrett Pilon, who is from Saskatoon, and defenceman Dawson Davidson, a native of Moosomin, Sask., drew the assists.
Sideroff drew an assist on Valentine’s winner.
The Blazers had to survive a later Moose Jaw power play after Valentine was penalized, with 1:01 left in the third period, for tripping forward Jesse Shynkaruk, who is another former Blazers skater. The Warriors pulled their goaltender for a 6-on-4 advantage but the Kamloops penalty killers, led by captain Matt Needham, were stellar.
“It was good (work) by our team killing that penalty for me,” Valentine said. “I really thank them for that. I don't know what I was doing on that one.
“I took a couple of penalties on (Shynkaruk). He's a speedy little guy, so good for him."
Blazers goaltender Connor Ingram, who is from Imperial, Sask., and had something of a cheering section on hand, was selected the game’s first star, with 26 saves. He is 4-0-0 on the trip.
At the other end, Brody Willms blocked 32 shots.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 3,104. . . . Each team was 0-for-2 on the power play. . . . F Landon Quinney, in his first season with the Warriors, drew the lone assist on Moose Jaw’s goal. He is the younger brother of Kamloops F Gage Quinney, who was held pointless. . . . The Blazers now are 7-6-1 on the road. . . . The Blazers scratched F Quinn Benjafield, D Conner McDonald and D Patrik Maier, who is in the Slovakian national junior team’s selection camp. . . . The Warriors were without D Dustin Perillat, who is recovering from facial injuries, F Jirk Smejkal, F Brayden Point and F Brett Howden, who suffered a shoulder injury on Wednesday. Smejkal (Czech Republic) and Point (Canada) are in national junior team selection camps.
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