Life in the WHL's Central Division turned out to be pretty sweet for the Kamloops Blazers.
As of Sunday, Brady Gaudet will be living that life full-time.
The Blazers are home after going 5-0 on a seven-day road trip through the Central Division. Kamloops capped the trip with a 6-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook on Saturday, its 10th straight victory.
The Blazers announced Sunday that they have traded Gaudet to the Red Deer Rebels for a third-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft.
Gaudet will be leaving the top team in the WHL, with Kamloops (12-0-1) still undefeated in regulation. And while the record would indicate near-perfection on the Blazers' part, they had to scrape and claw their way to their perfect record on the trip.
Kamloops needed a shootout to beat the Oil Kings 5-4 in Edmonton on Wednesday, and overtime in a 5-4 triumph over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday.
On Saturday, despite it being their fifth game in seven nights, the Blazers scored three unanswered goals in the third period to take down the Ice.
"The guys really stepped up and dug deep," said Blazers head coach Guy Charron. "There was some adversity on this trip. . . . It showed that this team has a lot of character."
It was the Blazers' top line - it's the top line in the league, actually - that carried the weight against Kootenay. Centre Colin Smith had a goal and three assists, with his wingers Tim Bozon and JC Lipon each scoring two goals and assisting on one other.
Sam Grist had the Blazers' other goal, 25 seconds into the third, which gave Kamloops a 4-3 lead. It was Grist's first goal since coming over from the Tri-City Americans in a trade on Oct. 9.
Charron said considering the Blazers were at the end of a long trip, he felt that being tied heading into the third period "wasn't that bad of a situation."
"They emptied their tank and found a way," he added.
Jaedon Descheneau, Collin Shirley and Brock Montgomery scored for the Ice. Mackenzie Skapski made 23 saves for the Ice, while Kamloops' Cole Cheveldave stopped 22 shots in his eighth straight victory to start the season.
Gaudet, 18, was a healthy scratch. A 2009 first-round bantam draft pick out of Redvers, Sask., Gaudet had five assists and 21 penalty minutes in 12 games.
He was in his third season with the Blazers, after putting up six goals and seven assists in 56 games as a rookie, then getting 16 points, including one goal, in 49 games last season.
But his role diminished over time and, with the Blazers carrying nine defencemen (not including Austin Madaisky, who remains with the AHL's Springfield Falcons), Gaudet found himself the odd man out.
"We had a number of conversations, and (general manager) Craig (Bonner) said we can't carry nine defencemen," Charron said. "Ryan Rehill has played very well for us - he put himself in a position to stay with the team.
"Unfortunately for Brady, it came down to a numbers game - we can't carry nine defencemen."
JUST NOTES: Attendance Saturday was 2,529. . . . The Blazers were 2-for-3 on the power play, and ended the trip 11-for-29 with the man advantage. . . . The Ice was 1-for-6 on the power play; Kamloops' penalty kill allowed six goals on 23 chances on the trip. . . . Madaisky has been a healthy scratch from all four of Springfield's games . . . . The Blazers scratches were RW Chase Souto, RW Jordan DePape (shoulder), Gaudet, D Joshua Connolly and Rehill. . . . Charron said DePape, who has missed six games, is "close" to returning. . . . Kamloops' next home game is scheduled for Friday, 7 p.m., against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
KINGS OF THE HILL
The Kamloops Blazers are at the top of the heap in the WHL — and the WHL scoring race.
The top four scorers in the WHL play for the Blazers — JC Lipon, Colin Smith, Tim Bozon and Brendan Ranford.
Lipon, 19, has a league-high 13 goals and 31 points. Smith, a 19-year-old centre who plays between Lipon and Bozon, leads the league with 20 assists and is second with 29 points.
Bozon, 18, and Ranford, 20, are tied for third with 21 points. Bozon has 11 goals while Ranford, who missed two games while attending camp with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, has seven. Bozon and Ranford also are tied with Calgary Hitmen forward Brooks Macek.