Dylan Willick did his part in his first game as captain of the Kamloops Blazers.
Willick scored a shorthanded goal late in the second period to spark the Blazers’ 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants at Pacific Coliseum on Wednesday. The Blazers are scheduled to play host to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday at Interior Savings Centre.
The Giants announced after the game that they have traded forward Kale Kessy, 20, to the Blazers for forward Rob Trzonkowski and a fifth-round pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. The Giants had acquired Kessy from the Medicine Hat Tigers in October; the Blazers had picked up Trzonkowski in an offseason trade with the Calgary Hitmen.
The deal leaves the Blazers with three 20-year-olds — Kessy, Willick and Brendan Ranford. Kamloops started the season with Jordan DePape as its third 20-year-old, but DePape is out with an injured shoulder, and may not play again this season.
Willick had been out of Kamloops’ lineup since Nov. 2, when he broke his right ankle in a game against the visiting Prince George Cougars. While he was working to return, the Blazers named Willick their captain.
With Willick in the lineup, the Blazers are 18-1-1; in his absence, they went 9-9-3.
He made an impact in the second period, scoring a shorthanded goal with 52 seconds remaining. The goal — Willick’s seventh of the season — tied the game at two, and the Blazers cruised in the third period.
Tim Bozon broke the tie with 8:43 remaining, then helped set up Chase Souto’s power-play goal 89 seconds later. Bozon, who scored three times in the Blazers’ 9-5 victory over visiting Vancouver on Saturday, now has 25 goals.
Joel Edmundson, on a first-period power play, had the other Blazers’ goal. Blake Orban, in the first period, and Trevor Cheek, in the second, scored for the Giants, who fell to 10-28-0 and own the league’s worst record.
Taran Kozun made 20 saves in the victory, while Vancouver’s Tyler Fuhr stopped 25 shots.
The victory helped the B.C. Division-leading Blazers hold off the hard-charging Kelowna Rockets. Kamloops (27-10-4) is two points ahead of the Rockets (27-10-2), who beat the visiting Victoria Royals 4-2 on Wednesday. Kelowna has played two fewer games than Kamloops.
JUST NOTES: Kamloops was 2-for-4 on the power play, with Vancouver going 0-for-2. . . . Blazers D Tyler Hansen missed the game due to illness, while F Aspen Sterzer was out with an undisclosed injury. Kamloops also scratched D Marek Hrbas (Czech Republic) and F JC Lipon (Canada), who are at the world junior championship in Ufa, Russia, and D Jordan Thomson (Team West), who is at the under-17 world challenge in Quebec. . . . Friday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. . . . C Colin Smith had two assists for Kamloops. . . . The Blazers are 4-0 against the Giants this season. The teams will play four more times this season.