A long night on the bus didn’t help the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday.
The Blazers lost 2-0 to the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday, less than 24 hours after they had finished off a 6-0 WHL victory over the Giants in Vancouver. It was an epic overnight trip for the Blazers, who will have a couple of days to rest before playing host to the Giants on Wednesday.
Despite the tough trip, the Blazers actually outshot the Chiefs 32-21 on Saturday, but couldn’t beat goaltender Garret Hughson, who picked up the second shutout of his rookie season. His play in the second period — when the Chiefs were outshot 14-7 — was a big reason for the victory, as Spokane was able to put two past Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave in the middle frame.
Blake Gal opened the scoring, at 10:18 of the second period, before Todd Fiddler scored his 39th of the season 28 seconds later. That was all the Chiefs needed, as Spokane clung to the victory despite being outshot 9-4 in the third period.
It’s the second time in three games that the Blazers have been shut out — they lost 3-0 to the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday. Still, Kamloops has been excellent in its 10 February games, winning eight of them and 11 of 14 dating back to late January.
The Blazers have nine games remaining, five of them against the Western Conference’s bottom two teams.
Along with two against the Giants — including Wednesday — Kamloops will take on the Prince George Cougars three times, including Friday on the road.
Vancouver (16-45-2) is last in the WHL, with Prince George (18-36-8) ninth in the Western Conference.
Kamloops also has three remaining games with the Kelowna Rockets, and a home date with the Victoria Royals.
It’s all but guaranteed that the Blazers (41-17-5) will finish second or third in the conference — the second-place Rockets (44-15-4) are five points ahead, while the fourth-place Tri-City Americans (36-22-3) are 12 points behind.
The Portland Winterhawks (51-9-3) remain first in the league, and are 13 points ahead of Kelowna for first in the conference.