Blazers crown Royals to close the wild card gap

By Earl Seitz
February 28, 2018 - 10:21pm Updated: February 28, 2018 - 11:09pm

KAMLOOPS --- The Kamloops Blazers defeated the star short Victoria Royals 5-1 to close the gap to six points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold the second wild card.

Victoria, needing one point to clinch a playoff, chose to sit two of their star forwards and top two scorers Matthew Phillips and Tyler Soy, and start their backup goaltender Dean McNabb.

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The rest of the Royals looked eager to show they could do it without Phillips and Soy, using speed and puck possession to take an early 7-0 lead in shots, but did'nt score.

The Blazers did'nt get their first shot on McNabb until 11:38 of the first, and it was a goal. Connor Zary with his 7th of the season.

It stayed 1-0 until midway through the second. The Royals took back to back penalties, and on a 5-against-3 Nick Chyzowski scored his 20th goal of the season to make it 2-0.

Victoria was awarded a penalty shot. Dante Hannoun took it, but it was off his stick before he could get the shot away.

Then seconds later the Blazers still on a 5-on-4 power play took a 3-0 lead on Brodi Stuarts tap in from a Joe Gatenby pass.

On hard work out of the corner and off the boards Tyler Walton centred the puck to the front for an unchecked Ryley Appelt  who tucked it past McNabb to put the Blazers up 4-0.

Less than a minute later Victoria would score off a double turnover with Andrei Grishakov beating Dylan Ferguson.

But before the second period was over the Blazers would add another one on Jermaine Loewen's 33rd.

It's rare to see two penalty shots in a game. That's what happened when Quinn Benjafield is awarded a free one after being interferred with on a breakaway.

Benjafield was turned away by McNabb.

After being outshot 7-0 early the game, the Blazers went on to outshoot the Royals 40-25 and win 5-1.

It puts them six points behind Seattle for the last wild card. The Blazers have seven games left to ten remaining for the Thunderbirds.

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