The Kamloops Blazers will continue their pursuit of a second straight WHL B.C. Division regular-season pennant with two home games this weekend.
Centre Colin Smith scored twice, giving him 40 goals, as the Blazers beat the Cougars 4-1 in Prince George on Friday night to move within five points of the division-leading Kelowna Rockets.
The Blazers are back at it tonight, 7 o'clock, as they meet the Vancouver Giants at Interior Savings Centre. The Giants surprised the Blazers 5-3 on Wednesday.
Kamloops will complete a busy weekend when it meets the visiting Rockets on Sunday, 6 p.m. The Rockets, who were idle last night, are to play the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Kelowna tonight.
Kamloops has seven games remaining, while Kelowna holds one game in hand. They will meet each other three times over the next week, as they also are to play Friday in Kamloops and March 9 in Kelowna.
Last night, Smith got the Blazers started with a goal just 41 seconds into the first period. It was the 100th goal of his career.
Klarc Wilson pulled the Cougars even on a power play a minute into the second period. Defenceman Joel Edmundson gave the Blazers a 2-1 lead with a shorthanded goal at 9:03 and the visitors took control late in thme period with goals 23 second apart by centre Dylan Willick and Smith.
Left-winger Brendan Ranford tied the Blazers' franchise record for career regular-season games played. This was game No. 341, tying the record set by centre C.J. Stretch (2005-10). Ranford will break the record tonight when the Blazers play host to the Giants.
Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave stopped 26 shots as he beat the Cougars for the 11th time in 12 tries over the last two seasons. The Cougars' Mac Engel, who is 0-7-1 against the Blazers during his time with the Spokane Chiefs and the Cougars, turned aside 29 shots.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers have won five of six games with the Cougars this season. They will meet twice more in two weeks to close out the regular season. . . . The Blazers scratched F Aspen Sterzer (concussion), F Matt Needham (undisclosed), D Jordan Thomson and D Connor Clouston. . . . Former Blazers F Ryan Hanes, who is from Kamloops, was scratched by the Cougars with an undisclosed injury. . . . Lorne Molleken, Saskatoon's GM/head coach, won his 600th game last night as the Blades beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-1. Only Ken Hodge (742), who coached the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks, has won more games as a WHL head coach.