Blazers lose seventh in a row

As the Tri-City Americans celebrated their final goal Tuesday night, The McCoys' 1965 hit Hang On Sloopy blared over the Interior Savings Centre sound system.

But it was too late for the Kamloops Blazers to do any hangin' on.

That goal put the exclamation mark on the Americans' 8-3 WHL victory in front of 3,897 sometimes disgruntled fans.

The Blazers, who are in need of something positive the way a thirsty man needs water, have lost seven straight games. They are 0-3 and have been outscored 27-9 in their last three appearances here.

A team that opened 7-1-2-0 now is 8-9-2-0 and wondering what hit it. The Blazers are 1-8-0-0 since falling 12-5 to the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Oct. 12.

The Edmonton Oil Kings (7-9-0-3) are here Friday night.

"Obviously there aren't any easy answers," offered Blazers interim head coach Scott Ferguson. "We came out hard at the start of the game. . . . We just seemed to implode for five to seven minutes in each period. We have to play a full 60-minute game."

Indeed, the home boys played fairly well in the first period. They got in on the forecheck, forced some turnovers, generated a few chances and outshot the Americans, 17-15. (By game's end, however, the Americans owned a 49-28 advantage.)

The Blazers came out of that first period trailing 2-1, thanks to a last-minute goal by right-winger Tyler Shattock.

Tri-City got its goals from freshman defenceman Drydn Dowd, his first WHL score, and veteran forward Kruise Reddick. The latter goal summed up the Blazers' night, with Reddick getting a breakaway off a Giffen Nyren turnover at the Tri-City line. Nyren chased Reddick into the Kamloops zone and ended up kicking the puck past goaltender Justin Leclerc.

But it all came undone in the opening minutes of the second period as the Americans got three quick goals from Neal Prokop, Dowd and Brendan Shinnimin to take a 5-1 lead. This one was over, except for the 50-50 draw.

"We played a great second period," said Dowd, a freshman from Calgary, "and that's when we took over the game."

Dowd, 17, went into the game with one assist in nine games, then scored twice and set up another.

"It was great," Dowd said. "I'm not getting many this season so it's nice to get the first couple."

And what of his first name - Drydn?

"My parents decided to name me without the 'e' because they wanted to be original," explained Dowd, adding that he was named after former Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Ken Dryden.

Defenceman Tyler Schmidt and forwards Adam Hughesman and Jordan Messier rounded out the scoring for the Americans (14-3-0-0) who lead the Western Conference and have the WHL's best winning percentage (.824).

Winger Brett Lyon, with his first WHL goal in 52 games, 17 of them this season, and centre Jake Trask also scored for the Blazers.

"If you look at the scoreboard," Ferguson said, "I want to hang myself with my tie. The guys have to stick with it. It's not 15 minutes a period, it's 20 minutes . . . for 60 minutes.

"These guys have to look inside themselves now and try to get through this."

JUST NOTES: Referee Steve Papp, who gave out more warnings than a traffic cop, flew solo in this one. He gave the Blazers 11 of 18 minors, two of four majors and the lone misconduct. . . . Leclerc stopped 41 shots, while Tri-City's Drew Owsley turned aside 25. . . . The Daily News' three stars: 1. Dowd - looked like a veteran on the back end; 2. LW Spencer Asuchak, Tri-City - local boy is a big body who made some things happen and drew two assists for his first career two-point game; 3. RW Brooks Macek, Tri-City - perhaps the most creative player out there. . . . Kamloops G Jon Groenheyde (bruised wrist) didn't dress. G Will Frolek of the junior B Kamloops Storm backed up Leclerc. . . . Kamloops LW Ryan Hanes, who has missed seven games with a concussion, was a healthy scratch after being cleared to play. C Dalibor Bortnak (spleen) is to have a CAT scan on Nov. 23. If all goes well, he could play Nov. 27 against the visiting Kootenay Ice. . . . C Colin Smith (broken arm) is scheduled to play for the first time this season on Friday.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca

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