Allen Douglas

Blazers torch Americans on historic evening

No Connor Zary, no Dylan Garand, no problem. With the Blazers’ star centre and number one goalie watching from the stands, Kamloops received goals from 11 different players in a 12-3 rout over the Tri-City Americans. 

Tri City’s captain Krystof Hrabik opened the scoring just 35 seconds into the game but the visitors’ lead was short-lived.

Caedan Bankier’s goal, just 1:12 after Hrabik’s marker, kickstarted a five-goal avalanche that stunned the Americans and rookie goaltender Mason Dunsford.

Quinn Schmiemann-Caedan Bankier. Photo by Allen Douglas/Kamloops Blazers.

Zane Franklin, Brodi Stuart, and Inaki Bargano each found twine before Matthew Seminoff’s tally forced a goaltending change with minutes remaining in the opening period.

Talyn Boyko faired somewhat better than his counterpart, but the damage was already done. The good news for Tri-City after 20 minutes? Paycen Bjorklund and Samuel Huo each scored their ninth of the season. The bad? Max Martin, Josh Pillar, Orrin Centazzo and Ethan Brandwood extended the Blazers’ lead to 9-3 after 40 minutes. 

“Sometimes games get away,” Blazers’ head coach Shaun Clouston offered post-game. “And I would expect them to be a lot better tomorrow night.” 

Even discounting the return of Zary, Garand and potentially Ryley Appelt to the lineup for the rematch, it’s difficult to imagine the Americans having a tougher outing than Friday’s blowout.

After being pulled in the first period, Dunsford returned to the crease for the final frame while Boyko was nowhere to be seen on the visitor’s bench. Blazers’ forward Ryan Hughes welcomed Dunsford back by going five-hole two minutes into the period; it was just one of those nights for Tri-City. 

Martin’s second of the game extended the lead to 11-3 before the final, and the most notable goal came off the stick of rookie Reese Belton. 25 games in, no points to his name and a monkey on his back that likely felt more akin to a gorilla, Belton received a pass from Daylan Kuefler and capped off an unforgettable night. 

“It felt so nice, I’m not gonna lie. It was mainly just a moment of relief to get that. It was a long time coming and long overdue but it felt really good.”

Well worth the wait, and a fitting moment with his linemate providing the primary assist on a rare powerplay opportunity.

“Personally, I think we work really well together. Being in the bottom six, we’re not necessarily relied on the most for scoring but I think the jobs that we do have — staying reliable in the D-zone, supplying a little bit of buzz on the bench — I think we’re really good at doing that and to score together, that felt pretty good.”

The numbers behind a wild night

Sean Strange and Montana Onyebuchi, the two members of the “shut-down” pairing, were the only Blazers that did not record a point on Friday.

Seven players had three-point nights for the Blazers; Ryan Hughes led the group with one goal and four assists. 

Ryan Hughes-Logan Stankoven. Photo by Allen Douglas/Kamloops Blazers.

Zane Franklin’s four-point night helped him leap Spokane’s Adam Beckman for the league lead in points with 70. Franklin has now eclipsed his point total from last season (68) in 26 fewer games. 

Max Martin’s three-point game moved him to second in scoring by defensemen with 42 points in 40 games, two back of Lethbridge Hurricanes’ Alex Cotton.

The Blazers’ twelve goals are the most in a single game since March 23, 1994. Kamloops has posted 25 goals in their last three games, and 34 in their last five games.

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