A bitter arch-rivalry was renewed Friday night as the Chilliwack Bruins and Kamloops Blazers played the first half of a home-and-home series. The game didn’t have much offensively, as Kamloops claimed a 2-1 win. But it had all the fireworks you’d expect from two teams who have come to thoroughly loathe each other.
Chilliwack’s recent special-teams woes continued in the first period of this one as the Blazers opened the scoring with a power play goal.
With Jamie Crooks in the box for boarding, Colin Smith pulled the trigger on his 15th of the year, The Edmonton native darted into the slot and wired a shot over the glove of Bruins netminder Lucas Gore at 6:24.
Chilliwack’s first line of Roman Horak between Ryan Howse and Robin Soudek had some giddyup in the first period, and they took just over two minutes to tie the score on a goal by Howse. Horak set him up with a pretty cross-ice blue line to blue line pass that caught the 19-year-old in full flight.
Left one on one with Kamloops keeper Jeff Bosch, the Prince George native made it look easy, cutting in to bury his team-leading 33rd of the season.
Shots on goal in period one favoured Chilliwack 11-9.
The Bruins ran into penalty trouble early in period two, but survived in large part thanks to the goaltending of Gore.
Kevin Sundher trooped to the box for hooking at 1:49, followed quickly by Crooks (tripping) and Stahl (boarding). The next result was six straight minutes killing penalties, including a pair of five-on-threes (the first one 23 seconds and the second one 65 seconds).
Gore made several highlight reel saves, stretching post to post to take one particularly nice chance away from Brendan Ranford. The Blazers helped him out with a complete lack of finish — Smith had the goaltender at his mercy on one play, but couldn’t elevate the puck over the Gore’s out-stretched leg pad.
The Kamloops native continued the thievery five-on-five, going post to post to thwart Dylan Williack on a cross-crease feed from Ranford.
The first fight of the game wasn’t much of a fight, at least not from Mitch Topping’s perspective. The 17-year-old Bruins blueliner gamely dropped the mitts with Kamloops toughie Ryan Hanes, who decked Topping with his first punch and landed two or three more before the linesmen jumped in. Topping returned to the game when his five minute major was up, showing no lasting effects.
Back to Gore, who made his best save of the game with 15 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Hanes jumped into the slot and teed up a can’t miss shot from 10 feet out. But to the surprise of Hanes and the 4,287 in attendance, Gore snared the puck with a lightning quick glove hand, turning cheers into groans.
The bad blood between these two teams finally boiled over as the period ended. Ten skaters ended up scrumming in a corner, and a scrap broke out between Brandon Magee (Chilliwack) and J.C. Lipon (Kamloops). The 16-year-old Bruin handled himself well against the 17-year-old Blazer, absorbing a few shots but refusing to go down.
Shots on goal in period two favoured Kamloops 19-7.
Manning threw another big log on the already raging inferno eight minutes into the final frame as he hammered Blazer blueliner Austin Madaisky into the boards behind the Kamloops net. With the home crowd spewing venom and calling for the Chilliwack captain’s head, Madaisky laid on the ice for several minutes before being helped to his feet.
Manning was given a five minute boarding major and booted out of the game.
Kamloops took just nine seconds to cash in on a five minute boarding major, getting a goal from Jordan DePape. DePape and his teammates celebrated as if they’d just won the Stanley Cup.
That was it though.
Gore made a nice stop on DePape and the Bruins escaped the major with just one goal against.
Gore came out of his net with just over a minute remaining, but the Bruins couldn’t do anything with the extra attacker. The Blazers successfully killed the clock and claimed a huge win over their B.C. division rivals.
Chilliwack’s record now sits at 21-26-2-2 and their losing streak has reached seven games.
The three stars were Smith (first), Hanes (second) and Gore (third).
The rematch goes tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Prospera Centre.