Centre Colin Smith set up two power-play goals and took over the WHL scoring lead Sunday night as the Kamloops Blazers beat the Giants 4-1 in Vancouver.
Smith leads the WHL in assists (36) and points (59). He holds a two-point lead over linemate JC Lipon atop the scoring race.
The victory allowed the Blazers (24-7-3) to keep pace with the Portland Winterhawks (25-5-1) atop the WHL's overall standings. The Winterhawks, who hold three games in hand, beat the host Tri-City Americans, 4-1, last night.
Kamloops now has won three straight games as it heads into Alberta for a four-game trek to close out its pre-Christmas schedule. The Blazers open that swing with games in Calgary on Tuesday and Edmonton on Wednesday.
The last time the Blazers went into the Central Division they ran the table, going 5-0-0.
The Giants, with the WHL's poorest record (8-23-0), went 0-3 on the weekend, as they were beaten 3-1 by the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Friday and then dropped a 4-1 decision to the Silvertips in Everett on Saturday. Vancouver has won just one of its last 11 games.
Last night, the Giants actually opened the scoring when forward Cain Franson finished a 3-on-1 break by beating goaltender Taran Kozun at 3:21 of the second period.
But the Blazers tied it on winger Chase Souto's fifth goal at 14:23 of the second.
The Blazers began the third period on a 5-on-3 power play and it took only 18 seconds for left-winger Tim Bozon to get his stick on a Brendan Ranford shot and get it past goaltender Payton Lee.
Just 13 seconds later Ranford, who has 12 goals, added insurance on a 5-on-4 power play. Ranford, who has 11 goals, had gone nine games without scoring, his last goal coming in a 6-4 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Nov. 16.
Souto later applied the finishing touches with an empty-net goal.
The Blazers were without centre Aspen Sterzer, who drew a one-game WHL suspension from an incident in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Friday. He was ejected with a checking-to-the-head major early in the first period.
JUST NOTES: Kamloops D Joel Edmundson left the game early in the second period because he wasn't feeling well. . . . The Blazers scratched F Dylan Willick (ankle), F Cole Ully (mononucleosis), Sterzer and D Ryan Rehill. . . . Lipon flies to Calgary today for the national junior team's selection camp so will miss at least the games in Calgary and Edmonton. . . . The Blazers next play at home on Dec. 29 when the Giants visit Interior Savings Centre. . . . The Saskatoon Blades beat the host Regina Pats 7-0 yesterday. It was the Pats' Teddy Bear Game, meaning the fans weren't able to toss the stuffed toys onto the ice until game's end. On Saturday night, the Blades had beaten the visiting Pats, 9-0.
© Kamloops Daily News