KIBIHT: Tier 1 Blazers race past Victoria

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
January 3, 2014 01:00 AM

Jackson Caller (5), Seth Favaro (7), captain Brendan Semchuk and Max Patterson celebrate the Jardine's Blazers' second goal during a KIBIHT Tier 1 game against the Victoria Racquet Club on Thursday at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre.

The deluge lasted all of 20 minutes, but it was more than enough for the Kamloops Jardine's Blazers.

The Blazers improved to 2-0 at the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament on Thursday with a 4-0 victory over the Victoria Racquet Club Kings at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre. Kamloops will finish its Tier 1 Division round-robin today, 12:30 p.m., against the Calgary Northstar Sabres at Interior Savings Centre.

Thursday's first period was like a shooting gallery for the Blazers, who peppered Victoria goaltender Liam Tutte with shot after shot. Kamloops had the Kings hemmed into their end for minutes at a time, but came out of the period in a scoreless draw.

That changed in the second period, when the Blazers scored three goals in the first seven minutes and four goals in total.

"We sort of reset and went back to the way we like to play, moving the puck," said Blazers head coach Kyle Allan. "We were working hard in the first, things just weren't going in for us."

Brendan Semchuk opened the scoring, converting a cross-crease pass from Max Patterson, before they traded places, with Patterson finishing a Semchuk feed. Solomon Seibel scored a power-play goal at 6:48, before Jackson Caller's long breakaway pass found the stick of Patterson, who went upstairs to make it 4-0.

"They came back hard in that second period," Allan said, "it was good to see."

It was an impressive effort from Kamloops, delighting what was a sizeable crowd at McArthur Island's Olympic rink. Around 350 people - scouts included - were in the stands, a far cry from the barren rinks in which the bantams normally play.

"We've never played in front of a crowd like this," said Patterson, a 6-foot-2 winger. "There's usually 50 people max, so this is a lot. I was pretty nervous before the game - I always get nervous."

Curt Doyle posted the shutout for the Blazers, and while he was solid, he went long stretches without seeing any shots. Doyle was at his best in the third period, when the Blazers seemed to let off a little, and the Kings, to that point discouraged, picked up their game.

Even with play at around 50-50 in that third period, Allan thought the Blazers held it together well.

"We moved the puck pretty well and we still got some chances, we still dominated the play," he said. "We just didn't get quite as many chances or as many bodies to the net, but the effort was still there in the third."

The Blazers have qualified for the playoffs - eight of the 12 teams in the Tier 1 Division do - but don't know where they will end up. Teams will be seeded on record and goal-differential, and if the Blazers win today it's likely they will finish second or third in the division.

Either way, they'll be playing a quarterfinal tonight at either 5 or 7 o'clock.

"This is a building thing. We always want to be better than the game before," Allan said. "In a tournament like this, that's really important. We'll be ready when we come back tomorrow."

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