The Kamloops Blazers have spent the early days of 2012 chewing on the mostly toothless Prince George Cougars.
Next up is the team ranked No. 1 in all of the CHL, the Tri-City Americans, who will bring a 13-game winning streak to Interior Savings Centre on Wednesday night as the Blazers open a four-game homestand.
The visitors will encounter a Kamloops team that is 7-1-0 in its last eight home games and 6-1-2 in its last nine games overall. The Blazers have won three straight and four of their last five.
Kamloops (28-10-3) leads the B.C. Division by seven points over the Vancouver Giants, but is five points behind the Western Conference-leading Americans (32-7-0), who are on a franchise-record winning streak.
On Saturday night, the Blazers got two goals and two assists from winger Brendan Ranford in posting a 6-1 victory in Prince George, their third victory over the Cougars (13-25-2) in seven nights.
Defenceman Bronson Maschmeyer scored twice for Kamloops, his first WHL two-goal game coming in game No. 233, with Tim Bozon and Matt Needham adding one each and Brandon Herrod drawing three assists.
Ranford and Bozon each got to the 20-goal plateau, a mark centre Colin Smith reached in Friday's 2-0 victory in Prince George.
Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave, a freshman from Calgary, ran his record to 20-5-3 with 15 saves, losing his shutout when defenceman Martin Marincin scored on the power play 32 seconds into the second period. Cheveldave went into the game having blanked the Cougars for two straight games.
Beating the Americans won't be as simple. They last played Saturday when they beat the host Everett Silvertips, 4-0, behind 22 saves from goaltender Ty Rimmer. He has put up two straight shutouts and has blanked the opposition in three of his six starts.
The Americans added some muscle on Saturday when they acquired 6-foot-2, 200-pound winger Jesse Mychan, 19, from Everett for a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft.
Mychan had seven points and 106 penalty minutes in 26 games with Everett. He also served 14 games in suspensions.
Mychan, who is from Saskatoon, is expected to make his debut with the Americans on Wednesday.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the Blazers and Americans. Tri-City beat visiting Kamloops 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 19.
JUST NOTES: Cheveldave is one of seven WHL goaltenders with at least 20 victories. He has the third-best GAA (2.47) and his .917 save percentage is seventh. . . . The Blazers scratched F Jordan DePape, D Brady Gaudet and F Ryan Hanes, all of whom are injured. . . . Canada won the IIHF U-18 women's world championship Saturday in Zlin, Czech Republic, with a 3-0 victory over the U.S. Maschmeyer's sister, Emerance, stopped 28 shots for Canada. Tim O'Donovan, the Blazers' video and media co-ordinator, handled Canada's video work. . . . Former Blazers D Micki DuPont has signed a contract extension with Kloten of the Swiss NL A that will take him through 2014-15. DuPont, who will be 32 on April 15, has four goals and a league-leading 31 assists in 36 games this season. He is seventh in the league scoring race.
© Kamloops Daily News