The Kamloops Blazers dominated this game from start to finish. They outshot the Spokane Chiefs 51 – 28 en route to a 5-1 victory placing them firmly in the playoff race two points back of the Kelowna Rockets.
The first period belonged to the home team from the drop of the puck, to the final whistle. Kamloops out shot Spokane 20-7 getting the party started with a little under five minutes remaining in the frame. 18-year-old Orrin Centazzo used his blazing speed to burn passed the Chiefs defender grabbing the puck and slapping it passed goaltender Reece Klassen giving the Blazers a 1-0 lead.
Not two minutes later Connor Zary popped up with puck in the high slot and with a slick toe drag ripped the biscuit into the net for his 20th goal of the season extending the lead to two.
“Whether our recent starts are a result of our practices have been or how we have tweaked how we prepare the guys so there is no gray area, it’s black and white so they know exactly what they need to do. The guys are understanding that we have to start on time.” said head coach Serge Lajoie.
The second stanza started as the first ended with the Blazers all over the Chiefs including adding nine shots for a total of 29 only a little over five minutes into the period. The pressure culminated in the Blazers extending their lead, off of the stick of Ryley Appelt, to 3-0.
Although the score didn’t favour them, Spokane wasn’t down and out. Just past the half-way mark of the period they got one back, on their league leading power play, when Jaret Anderson-Dolan buried a shot from the point making the score 3-1.
For a team to have success it’s best players need to be their best and Centazzo certainly was in this one. With 7.2 seconds left in the second he broke in alone and scored on the backhand for his second of the evening and restoring the home side’s three-goal advantage heading into the third.
The third period showed how far this Kamloops team had come in a very short period of time. They were cerebral in the third period. Making sure pucks were deep and the defensemen weren’t pinching. Protecting the two points was paramount, and they did just that polishing the win off with a late goal off the blade of Zary, his second of the game.
“We talk about playing tough, but playing tough isn’t just physical it’s also putting pucks in good areas and forcing the other team to come 200 feet to create a scoring chance. I told the guys we needed heavy shifts, nothing low-high… It’s not pretty, but it works.” said Lajoie.
With this win against the Chiefs, this means the Blazers are now only two points back of Kelowna. Both teams have three games remaining with Kamloops taking on Victoria, and Prince George twice. Kelowna has Spokane and Vancouver twice on their schedule.
It looks like there could be a tie-breaker scenario between the two Okanagan rivals. If Seattle is ahead of both of them in points, and the Rockets and Blazers end up tied in points that will trigger a tie-breaker game – a one game playoff that will be played to determine who gets into the post-season.
Attendance – 3317 announced attendance
With a guess of 3316 @mikemohr19 is our winner
— Mike Mohr (@mikemohr19) March 13, 2019