KAMLOOPS — Despite chucking a whole mess of rubber at the Kelowna Rockets net, the Kamloops Blazers came up short against their Okanagan rivals, losing 4-3 in a shootout Saturday night.
The Blazers surrendered just four shots in the opening frame of their final home exhibition game but found themselves trailing Kelowna 2-0 after 20 minutes of play, on goals from Leif Mattson and Nolan Foote. Kamloops had 18 shots in the first period but were unable to get anything by Rockets starting goaltender Brodan Salmond.
Things got worse, as Kyle Topping scored an unassisted marker for the Rockets just 16 seconds into the 2nd period. Shortly after both teams changed their goaltenders, the Blazers puck luck turned around.
Late in the second, Brodi Stuart stole the puck from Ted Brennan deep in the Rockets zone, then found Swiss import Justin Sigrist alone in front. Kelowna goalie Cody Porter stopped the initial shot, but Sigrist was able to swat home the rebound to get the Blazers on the board.
The home team kept battling and continued to throw pucks on goal, amassing 31 shots after two periods of play.
Nic Holowko, who couldn’t convert a bunch of scoring chances early in the game (including a crossbar on a second-period breakaway) finally managed to bury an opportunity in the third. Connor Zary fired a low shot from the point, which Holowko tipped on goal. The initial deflection was stopped, but Holowko was there to tap in the rebound, and the Kelowna lead was trimmed to one.
Just three minutes later, with the Blazers on a power play, Kamloops would get a favourable bounce. Nick Chyzowski would fire a hard pass across to Stuart, who had the puck ricochet off his skate and into the goal to even things at 3 goals apiece.
With neither team able to score in regulation, the game went to 3-on-3 overtime, which solved nothing. So, a shootout was necessary to determine a winner.
Jack Cowell, the Rockets third shooter was the only one to score in the shootout, as he beat Max Palaga with a nice forehand, backhand deke to secure the victory for the visitors.
The Blazers play their final preseason game up in Prince George on Friday, September 15th, before opening the season with a home and home series against the Rockets, September 22nd in Kelowna and September 23rd at the Sandman Centre.
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