Facing a first-place team featuring a Bear and a Wolf didn't seem to faze the Kamloops Blazers on Wednesday night.
The Blazers knocked off the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-1 at Interior Savings Centre, Kamloops' second-straight victory following four losses in a row. The Blazers, now 4-7-0, are on the road next, playing the Giants in Vancouver on Friday before heading to Everett for a Saturday contest with the Silvertips.
The Thunderbirds came into the game first in the WHL at 8-2-0. Their lineup also features the scarily-named Kevin Wolf and Ethan Bear, along with Mathew Barzal, the first overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft who has been on fire in his first WHL season.
None of this seemed to bother the Blazers, who skated stride for stride with the T-Birds in what was an even first period.
A nifty rush by Barzal - in which he snuck through three Blazers en route to getting a shot off - led to the T-Birds' goal, which Shea Theodore potted on a shot from the point. That goal, 3:13 into the game on the power play, was as good as it got for the Thunderbirds.
Tim Bozon scored an unassisted goal to tie the game at the 11:53 mark. The Thunderbirds cleanly won a draw in the Kamloops zone - but there was no one at the right point to receive the puck. Bozon swooped in on a breakaway and tied the game.
The T-Birds came out of the dressing room on fire to start the second period, getting four shots on Kamloops goaltender Bolton Pouliot in the first 48 seconds. But a nifty bit of work by Blazers forwards Tyson Ness and Chase Souto about five minutes later led to Ness hitting a post, and the tide had turned.
Bozon scored on a 2-on-1 with 4:13 to go in the second period, before Souto got a breakaway of his own and made it 3-1 only two minutes later.
If the Thunderbirds were ever going to get back in this one, it would have been in the dying stages of the second period and early part of the third period, when the Blazers took penalty after penalty, giving Seattle a power play for 5:45, including 1:25 of five-on-three. But the Kamloops penalty kill, which went 7-for-8, held, and so did the Blazers.
Kamloops gets full marks for the victory, playing tough against a very good team. Pouliot was excellent again, making 31 saves, six more than Seattle's Justin Myles.
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 3,827. . . . The Daily News' Three Stars: 1. Kamloops D Sam Grist: Held Barzal and Co. in check; 2. Bozon: A couple of nice goals; 3. Seattle F Justin Hickman: solid playing alongside Barzal. . . . F Ryan Gropp, who decided to join the Thunderbirds on Tuesday, didn't play Wednesday. Gropp left the BCHL's Penticton Vees to play with the Thunderbirds. . . . The Blazers' next home game is scheduled for Oct. 26 against Everett.