KAMLOOPS --- On a night where the fans came out to celebrate Don Hay as the winningest coach in Western Hockey League history, it was Dillon Dube from the Kelowna Rockets who stole the spotlight, scoring twice in a 2-1 win for the visitors at the Sandman Centre on Friday night.
After a half hour pre-game ceremony honoured Hay's accomplishments, including video tributes from his former players and coaching staff, the Rockets came out of a cannon with the first few shots of the goal and the first goal by Dube, his 26th of the season 4:15 into the contest.
"[The pre-game ceremony] probably hurt us more than it hurt them. Our guys were out on the bench waiting and probably weren't sharp to start," said Hay. "But I thought we recovered pretty well."
WATCH: Blazers lose to rival Rockets
The Blazers tied the game less than three minutes later. Defenseman Montana Onyebuchi slapped home a shot after a frantic series in front of Rockets goaltender Brodan Salmond to make it 1-1 after the first. Kamloops outshot Kelowna 9-7 in the opening frame.
Kelowna tipped the shot clock in its favour in the second and took another lead on another goal by Dube, who finished off a pretty tic-tac-toe play from Cal Foote and Leif Mattson to give the Rockets a 2-1 advantage going to the third.
Despite some close chances to tie the game in the final frame, Salmond turned aside all nine Kamloops shots in the third to preserve the one-goal Kelowna win. The loss leaves the Blazers six points behind Seattle for the final wild card in the West after the Thunderbirds also lost 4-3 to Everett on Friday night.
Dylan Ferguson made 25 saves, some of which kept the Blazers in the game. Ferguson was frustrated after the game after another one-goal loss.
"Seems to be the storyline for us right now, these one-goal games we just can't seem to tie it up there," he said. "But the guys put in a lot of effort tonight. They're a really good team and I have no problem with how we played tonight. It just didn't go our way."
The Blazers are back home on Saturday when the face the Prince George Cougars.
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