At about 9:30pm last night the Kamloops Blazers were losing a hard fought game against the Spokane Chiefs. That game, was played in Spokane, Washington. Around the same time, the Kelowna Rockets were losing, at home, to the Prince George Cougars. Both teams needed to throw those lost two points behind them and focus on the two available to them tonight as there were only seven points separating these two teams in the standings.
Kelowna started the game like a dog on a bone, all over the ice and they were rewarded for their efforts scoring 47 seconds into the game and taking the lead 1-0. The Blazers had to play from behind again, whether it was bus legs, or just a lack of effort.
After the game, Head Coach Serge Lajoie mentioned the team is looking at different ways to eliminate bad starts. “Unfortunately I think it’s a bit of a trend, we have very slow starts to our games, why that is, i’m not sure. We have tried different things behind closed doors in terms of how to get the guys going, but what I liked was there was no sag”
The first continued on it’s somewhat pedestrian trajectory until the Rockets were presented with a 1:20 two-man advantage of which the Blazers were able to kill off.
18-year-old Orrin Centazzo tied the game beating Rocket’s goaltender Roman Basran off a slick feed from linemate Zane Franklin and with 22 seconds left in the first the score was knotted up at one.
Early in the 2nd period, with Kelowna’s Dalton Gally in the box Kamloops’ Martin Lang found the back of the net from the high slot for his and put the home team up 2-1.
About half way through the period the Rockets would receive yet another 5-on-3 power play. This time the Blazers wouldn’t be able to kill the whole thing off as Nolan Foote beat goaltender Dylan Ferguson far side off a one-timer tying the game again, this time at two.
The game stayed tied until Kelowna’s Leif Mattson beat Ferguson from behind the goal line, banking the puck of Ferguson’s back and into the net giving the Rockets the lead heading into the third period.
Much of the third frame belonged to the home team. Kamloops hemmed the Rockets in their own zone for what seemed like minutes on end multiple times and they were rewarded for their hard work.
On a power play, 16-year-old Josh Pillar buried a shot after receiving a nice bump pass from Martin Lang. The tying goal was the youngster’s fifth of the season.
This game seemed destined for overtime before Centazzo stole the puck from a Rocket’s d-man and broke in all alone. Centazzo was hauled down and with 1:20 left in the game he was awarded a penalty shot and in front of almost 5000 cheering fans, he made no mistake.
— Kamloops This Week (@KTWonBLAZERS) January 6, 2019
Lajoie talked about the shot after the game “I don’t know what his mindset was, but it speaks to his ability to focus in on himself and the goaltender. A tremendous move to freeze the goaltender and go top shelf on the backhand.”
Kelowna pushed hard at the end of the game but the Blazers held onto the two points against their division rival.
“Points against divisional rivals are important, they are four point games. For us to get two clean points and not give up any is really important. I’m glad how our guys stuck with it,” said Lajoie.
The Blazers were whistled for six penalties tonight, and also six last night. After the game, Lajoie was asked if he had any concern about the team’s discipline.
“I made a point of looking at the calls yesterday. There are some tough calls against us, I know we have to live by them but it’s a fine line. I’m cautious of telling our players to ease up, they are asked to pressure pucks and take away time and space, there is going to be some contact and it seems we find ourselves on the wrong end of calls… I think there are a lot of calls missed on our big bodies but hockey is a fair game, we will get some calls going our way in the next little while.”
The Blazers will immediately head down highway 5 towards Everett to take on the Silvertips Sunday at 4pm. Later in the week, they will find themselves Island bound to take on the Victoria Royals on Wednesday and Friday and then to Langley to take on the Giants Saturday night.
Kamloops’ PK went 5/6 moving to 78% good for 12th in the league. The PP went 2/4 and moves to 23.8%, good for 6th in the league.
Attendance – 4793
With a guess of 5000, @CallerKorina wins the prestigious attendance contest! (Should come up with a better name…)
— Korina Caller (@CallerKorina) January 6, 2019