Kamloops lose ugly one against Cougars, lose ground in wildcard race

By Adam Donnelly
February 17, 2018 - 10:56pm Updated: February 18, 2018 - 12:42am

KAMLOOPS — It certainly wasn’t pretty. The Kamloops Blazers squandered three separate leads against the last place Prince George Cougars on Saturday night to drop their fourth in a row, this time in a shootout.

Nick Chyzowski opened the scoring just 15 seconds into the game, picking up a loose puck behind the Cougars net and beating Tavin Grant on the wraparound.

The Cougars would respond with two goals in a span of 3:14. Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Josh Maser tallied for the Cats to give PG the lead halfway through the first frame.

The Blazers would respond with a pair of their own. First, Swiss import Justin Sigrist would score his third of the year to tie it, then Jackson Shepard would pot one on the power play to give Kamloops a 3-2 lead after 20.

Early in the 2nd, Maser would get his second of the game and 25th goal of the season to knot things at three. The Cougars would regain the lead just 2:17 later, as Josh Curtis would tally for the Cats.

The Cougars lead would last all of 28 seconds, as Jermaine Loewen buried his 29th of the year to even the score before Quinn Benjafield tipped home the Joe Gatenby point shot on the power play to give Kamloops a 5-4 lead.

Prince George wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel, though. Mikhalchuk would tie things at five apiece with a little over two minutes remaining in the middle stanza. That goal would end Dylan Ferguson’s night, as Max Palaga would replace him in the Kamloops net.

With time winding down, Quinn Benjafield would take a slashing penalty with 13 seconds left in the 2nd period. The Cougars would only need six seconds to score their 2nd power-play goal of the game, as Jared Bethune’s 19th gave the Cats the lead heading into the 3rd.

The only goal in the third period would go to the Blazers. Tyler Ludwar would notch his first WHL goal on a deflection just two minutes into the final frame, and neither team was able to break the deadlock the rest of the way through the third.

Overtime solved nothing, so the game went to a shootout.

Ilijah Colina was stopped by Palaga. Orrin Centazzo couldn’t beat Grant. Justin Sigrist buried for the Blazers. Vladislav Mikhalchuk responded for PG. Connor Zary had trouble controlling the puck on his attempt, which opened the door for Ethan Browne to win it for Prince George, which is exactly what he did.

With the shootout loss and Seattle’s shootout win over Everett, the Blazers lose ground in the wildcard race and now trail the T-Birds by 8 points. Seattle has two games in hand over Kamloops.

Blazers shutout in Everett, eight points back in wild card