Thursday April 24, 2014

Kamloops Blazers win one, lose one

Penalties helped end the Kamloops Blazers’ longest winning streak of the WHL season on Sunday evening.

The Blazers lost 5-2 to the host Moose Jaw Warriors, snapping a three-game winning streak. Kamloops will try to get back on track while playing its last game before Christmas on Tuesday against the Broncos in Swift Current.

It had been a relative while between losses for the Blazers (9-22-4), the WHL’s second-worst team in terms of record. Kamloops lost 5-2 to the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday in the opening game on this East Division swing, its 13th straight defeat.

But the Blazers bounced back to beat the Regina Pats 4-3 in a shootout on Wednesday, then knocked off the Prince Albert Raiders 4-2 on Friday and the Saskatoon Blades 3-2 on Saturday.

The winning streak came to a halt thanks to Sunday’s penalty-filled effort. The Blazers gave Moose Jaw, which had lost seven straight coming into the contest, 11 power plays.

The Warriors scored on two of those power plays, taking a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals from Sam Fioretti and Brayden Point. Point made it 3-0 at the 8:54 mark of the second, before Cole Ully scored his 14th of the season for the Blazers.

Whatever momentum the Blazers had went out the window when Tanner Eberle scored an unassisted goal two minutes after Ully’s goal. Matt Needham scored to cut the lead again in the third period, but Moose Jaw’s Torrin White scored into an empty net with 1:12 remaining.

“I think the road trip caught up to us. It was our fifth game in six nights with a lot of travel and we took a lot of foolish penalties at bad times,” Kamloops head coach Dave Hunchak told Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. “It seemed like we were killing penalties all night long and that taxes your guys pretty quick.

“We chased the game. That’s the bottom line. Moose Jaw had a good game plan; they attacked us and came right after us and didn’t give us a chance to get out of our zone.”
Taran Kozun stopped 26 of 30 shots through two periods. Hunchak put in rookie Cole Kehler for the third period, and he stopped all 10 shots sent his direction.

Kozun was excellent on Saturday, stopping 38 shots. Carson Bolduc, acquired last month from the Prince George Cougars, scored his first two goals with the Blazers, the second of which came with 11:41 remaining and stood as the winner.

Bolduc, a Salmon Arm native, had scored two goals with the Cougars this season. Eric Krienke and Nathan Looysen, a pair of rookies, had the assists on both of his Saturday goals.

Ully also scored in the victory, while Nathan Burns and Nolan Reid scored for the Blades — both goals came on the power play. Troy Trombley, a Blazers draft pick who played one game with Kamloops in 2010-11, made 38 saves in the loss.

The Blades are struggling — they lost 4-0 to the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday, their 10th straight loss.

JUST NOTES: The Blazers were 0-for-6 on the power play on Sunday, after going 0-for-3 on Saturday. . . . Joe Kornelsen (head) remains out of the Blazers’ lineup, and likely will remain so through Tuesday’s game. . . . Also hoping to come back after Christmas is G Bolton Pouliot (hand). . . . D Jordan Thomson remains at home in Manitoba. . . . The Blazers will return from Christmas on Dec. 27, when they head to Kelowna to play the Rockets. Kamloops will be home to the Vancouver Giants on Dec. 29, before playing its next five games on the road. . . . The Rockets beat the host Raiders 5-3 on Sunday, and now have won 11 straight games. Kelowna (27-3-2) has the best record in the WHL.

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