Before Martin Lang’s crafty redirection with 2:40 left in the first period, you may have chalked up the opening frame’s sloppy play to a case of the turkey legs. Perhaps the Blazers’ only Tuesday game of the year had little to do with its post-Thanksgiving timing and more an issue of an uncharacteristically sluggish start, but Kamloops appeared to be a step behind the Broncos at times.
That is, until, Ryan Hughes skated down the left-wing and placed the puck where only Lang could reach it, allowing the Czech Republic native to tip the puck above Reece Klassen’s left shoulder for his third goal of the season and the game’s first goal.
Blazers’ coach Shaun Clouston was not as surprised by the first period’s outcome, especially after last Saturday’s game where the Broncos had jumped out to a 5-1 lead against the Winnipeg Ice after just 20 minutes.
“We expected them to play hard, we matched that and we got some momentum from that goal and that really helped.”
With the first period and any potential Tryptophan overload in the rearview mirror, the Blazers’ top line went to work in the second period. Orrin Centazzo collected points 100 and 101 of his WHL career with two second-period goals, one of which was the lone goal on five Blazers’ power play opportunities.
While it appeared at times that the Blazers would coast their way to their sixth victory in seven games, the fourth line of Reese Belton, Caedan Bankier and Daylan Kuefler had other plans.
“I thought they were great, we acknowledged them after the game in the room there.” That acknowledgement should serve as a feather in the cap for the trio of forwards who have a combined 16 games of experience in the WHL but have embraced their roles with open arms.
“If they had something, they went after it, if they didn’t, they got the puck into the corner and forechecked hard,” Clouston added.
Aside from Reece Klassen’s outstanding play in net, the Broncos produced one notable highlight in the form of Kamloops-born Matthew Ward. After leading his Delta team in scoring last season, the Broncos selected Ward 14th overall in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
The Broncos, currently on a rare swing through the B.C. Division, notified Ward that he would be playing his first WHL game in his hometown. “It’s a pretty cool experience being a kid and watching the Blazers and now playing against them tonight.”
While Ward would have preferred a different outcome, the 15-year old felt that he had already begun to make adjustments throughout his first outing: “I think I did a little bit better near the end of the game, I got more used to the speed, but it’s tough [that] we got the loss there.”
Unfortunately for Ward, he and the Broncos received no help from Blazers backup Rayce Ramsay. The 18-year old posted his first win of the season and first shutout of his WHL career, stopping all 23 shots that came his way.
3 stars in the building:
3: Rayce Ramsay
2: Connor Zary
1: Orrin Centazzo
DUBNetwork’s 3 stars:
3: Rayce Ramsay – Not the heaviest workload, but a shutout nonetheless.
2: Reece Klassen – The other end of the spectrum; Klassen fought for every square inch of his crease from start to finish and kept this game from being a blowout.
1: Orrin Centazzo – Another game, another multi-point effort for the playmaking winger.
What’s on tap:
The Vancouver Giants come to town on Friday, October 18th. Kamloops then hosts the Kelowna Rockets the following night on Saturday, October 19th. Both games are set to begin at 7:00 PM.