The Blazers’ season-best nine-game winning streak came to a grinding halt on Saturday night in Prince George. After shutting out the Cougars 24 hours earlier, the Blazers were once again stymied by netminder Taylor Gauthier. The 18-year old stopped all but one of the 38 shots he faced, earning his third victory of the season against the Blazers.
Kamloops — deploying the WHL’s second-best offence with 195 goals in 46 games — is all too familiar with this script. The Blazers have outshot the Cougars 220-104 in the season series, outscored them 11-10 but trail 2-3 in the season series. So how exactly has the WHL’s most offensively-starved team recorded a winning record against the B.C Division leaders? Look no further than Gauthier’s 2.20 goals-against average and .954 save percentage when facing Kamloops this season. The claws are out, and they’re awfully sharp.
Despite the fractured winning streak, it was a rather successful week in the city where two rivers meet. After beginning the season in the Canadian Hockey League’s Top-10 Rankings, then abruptly falling off the map with an 0-3 record, the Blazers polled at seventh overall for the second consecutive week.
Individual honours wrote the rest of the story. The Vaughn CHL Team of the Week (Jan. 13-19) included 20-year olds Zane Franklin and Max Martin. Martin’s two goals and six assists in four games also gave the Winnipeg, MB. a brief tenure as the WHL’s point leader by defencemen.
Franklin, meanwhile, recorded two goals and eight assists in those four games, giving him the overall lead in points for WHL players. Franklin’s 10 points in four games also earned the Marwayne, Alta. native WHL On the Run Player of the Week honours.
Two Blazers’ prospects from the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft were busy on the international stage. Mats Lindgren and Dylan Ernst — representing Canada at the Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland — took home the bronze medal after a 2-1 victory over Finland.
The Blazers then announced the signing of 04’ prospect Fraser Minten. Minten — drafted by Kamloops in the fourth round of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft — is currently among the top scorers in his age bracket in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League.
Minten’s signing comes just weeks after the Vancouver product and first-rounder Connor Levis spent time practicing with the organization. Here’s what Blazers’ general manager Matt Bardsley had to say about the two:
“I’ve always felt that the elite players, they can adapt to their surroundings. The pace was a lot quicker but I thought they adjusted really well. I’m really confident that they can play here next year if that’s something they want to do.”
Minten joins Lindgren, Ernst and Tye Spencer as prospects to have signed with the Blazers since the draft.
Reagan Milburn — who was listed by the Blazers in August, 2019 — was called up by the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers this past week. Milburn has recorded 31 points in 27 games with the Thompson Blazers in the B.C. Major Midget League.