The Chilliwack Bruins lost their fifth straight in a crucial B.C. division matchup Saturday night, yielding a 5-1 home-ice decision to the visiting Kamloops Blazers.
The Bruins (21-23-2-2) came into the game in seventh place in the wild Western conference standings, one point up on ninth place Kamloops (21-28-2-1). Post game, the teams switch spots, and Chilliwack now finds themselves on the outside of the ever-changing playoff picture.
The Blazers got off to a lightning quick start in this one.
In the opening minute, Chilliwack defenceman Zach Habscheid bobbled a pass at the point, giving Kamloops forward J.T. Barnett a breakaway from center ice in. The ex-Vancouver Giant tried a five-hole backhand, only to be thwarted by Bruins netminder Lucas Gore.
Gore was the victim of some tough luck moments later as Kamloops forward Thomas Frazee opened the scoring. Working on the power play, with Habscheid in the box for cross-checking, Frazee uncorked a point shot that hit the left post and Gore before dribbling back across the goal-line.
The Blazer power play clicked again at 6:55, with Barnett pulling the trigger. The 18-year-old took a pass from Brendan Ranford and sniped a sharp-angle shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. His 11th of the year had the Bruins reeling against the ropes, until Roman Horak came through with a timely strike.
With Blazers Josh Caron (roughing) and Brandon Underwood (interference) in the penalty box and the Bruins enjoying a five-on-three advantage, Chilliwack’s Brandon Manning unloaded a shot from the point. The rebound rattled around in the crease, with Horak and Robin Soudek both whacking away. Horak had the last touch, pushing the puck across the line to cut the Kamloops lead in half.
Shots on goal in period one favoured Kamloops 13-10.
The Blazers scored twice in the middle frame to increase their lead to 4-1.
A great individual effort from Ranford set up the first. The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick skated into the Chilliwack zone and tried to power past Stahl. The 18-year-old blueliner did well to hold him off, but Ranford kept control of the puck, wheeled 180 degrees and spotted Dylan Willick chugging up the gut. The pass was perfect, Gore was way out of position and Willick had an empty cage to shoot at for his 15th of the season.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Frazee swooped behind the Bruins net and had his wraparound attempt go off Gore and in, giving the 20-year-old his 22nd of the year. Kamloops pushed the advantage to 5-1 early in the final frame on Willick’s second of the game. The 18-year-old got his stick on a Tyler Hansen shot, deflecting it past Gore at 4:53.
That was it for the scoring as the Blazers out-shot the Bruins 46-21.
The game ended with some predictable pugilism, including a 10-player brawl, as both teams tried to send a message for future meetings.
Three stars were Willick (first), Frazee (second) and Barnett (third).
The Bruins are on the road Wednesday (Kelowna) and Friday (Kamloops) before returning home to face the Blazers again next Saturday.