The Vancouver Giants have had the Kamloops Blazers number all season. The games have, for the most part, been close but Vancouver had won all four matchups. With playoffs coming quickly, and the game tightening up, special teams were going to have to be up to snuff for Kamloops to get some points.
Late in the first period, Giants’ 2001 born forward Lukas Svejovsky found the puck after an odd bounce and slipped it past Ferguson to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Kamloops tied the game in the second period on a power play when Connor Zary snuck a wrister past Giant’s 2001-born goaltender Trent Miner for his 13th goal and 44th point of the season.
Kamloops Connor Zary is a late 2001 birthday meaning he is born after September 15th and is not eligible for this year’s NHL draft while the majority of his 2001 born peers are eligible to become the property of an NHL franchise this June.
The first half of the third period was in the home team’s favour. Kamloops carried the majority of the play but failed to score on the shots they did have. Head Coach Serge Lajoie knew he needed to get some guys going so he threw the lines in a blender “It gave me an opportunity to get Logan in there, or get Franklin on a different unit, or Jermaine on a different unit. Your best players, sometimes you want to find them a little bit of extra ice but it was a difficult game to allow me to just roll the lines.”
The blender seemed to be working, that is until Kamloops got into penalty trouble.
With eight minutes to play, Kamloops’ Martin Lang was called for a high stick. There was some debate on whether the stick actually made contact or not. Whether it did or didn’t, Lang needed to have more control of his stick.
Vancouver’s Tristan Nielsen was the beneficiary of the power play, not only scoring on Lang’s penalty but also on another penalty the Blazers took not two minutes later tallying his eighth and ninth goals of the season.
After the game, Head Coach Serge Lajoie commented on the penalties that ended up salting the game away. “Two embellishment calls that were missed… They capitalised on their special teams, and we needed to do more on our special teams. That’s where the game was won. At this point of the year, your special teams need to be special and ours weren’t.”
Vancouver took this one, 3-1.
Although the Blazers didn’t get any points, Lajoie liked how his team played “I’m sure the players are frustrated… we’re so close. Against a team like this, we need everybody but we were just shy in some small areas”
There is no time to dwell on this loss, Kamloops is home to the Kelowna Rockets tomorrow night in what is surely the biggest game of the season thus far. “We’re gonna come back and reset. This one needs to sink in. We still have another level to bring if we want to be in the playoffs.”
With this loss, Kamloops’ record moves to 20-26-4-1 good for 45 points and 9th in the Western Conference.
With Kelowna beating Prince George 4-3 that places the Blazers four points behind the team from the Okanagan for 3rd in the division and what should be a match-up against divisional rival Victoria Royals. Kamloops still has two games in hand over the Rockets.
Seattle losing to Portland tonight means Kamloops is still only 1 back of the emerald city squad for the final wildcard spot.
Attendance – 3532 announced attendance
With a guess of 3500 @CallerKorina is our winner!
Quiet (maybe cold?) 3500
— Korina Caller (@CallerKorina) February 9, 2019