By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops Blazers scored only two goals during a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the Cougars in Prince George Cougars.
Both goals came Saturday in a 2-1 overtime victory that was enough to get them a split.
“It was good,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said Sunday. “I was upset because we didn’t score, but on a positive note we are committing ourselves to defence. If we continue to do that, the offence will come.”
On Friday night, Prince George goaltender Brett Zarowny had stopped 44 shots as the Cougars posted a 1-0 victory.
On Saturday, the Blazers scored on the game’s first and last shots, winning it on defenceman Sam Grist’s fourth goal of the season at 3:01 of extra time.
“It’s always close (against Prince George),” Charron said. “But I’m pleased.”
The Blazers got their first goal from forward Dylan Willick, who scored his eighth goal on their initial shot, at 4:00 of the first period.
The Blazers nursed that lead into the third period, until Prince George forward Colin Jacobs scored a power-play goal at 1:06 with Grist serving a checking-from-behind minor.
“Their power-play goal bounced off a stick and another stick and landed right on Jacobs’ stick,” Charron said. “But we stuck with it and found a way to win.”
Grist won it with a shot from the point that got through a screen provided by winger Chase Souto and past goaltender Mac Engel, who stopped 32 shots.
The Blazers got 26 saves from goaltender Cole Cheveldave as he finally recorded his 20th victory of the season. Cheveldave, now 20-9-2, had been 0-4-1 in his last six appearances since beating the host Calgary Hitmen 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 11.
“He played well,” Charron said. “He needed it. He needed to put a couple of games together and he came through for us. He feels better about his game now. He’s getting his confidence back.”
The Blazers (29-12-4) remain second in the B.C. Division, three points behind the Kelowna Rockets (31-10-3), who had an eight-game winning streak snapped when they lost 4-3 in OT to the Giants in Vancouver on Saturday. The Cougars (13-24-6) are three points out of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. The Seattle Thunderbirds, who have lost 14 in a row, continue to cling to that last playoff spot.
Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks won their 14th straight game, beating the Silvertips 8-0 in Everett on Saturday, and now lead the overall standings by 10 points over the Rockets and Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Blazers didn’t skate on Sunday, but will practise this morning before boarding their bus and leaving for Victoria where they are to play the Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday. Kamloops then will journey to Kennewick, Wash., for a Friday night game against the Tri-City Americans.
The Blazers next play at home Saturday when the Royals will be at Interior Savings Centre.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers will be without associate coach Dave Hunchak for at least their next three games — the two in Victoria and a Friday date in Kennewick, Wash., with the Tri-City Americans. He is returning to Saskatchewan after his mother, Irene, died on Saturday afternoon. Ed Patterson, the Blazers assistant coach who works some practices and all home games, is to make the road trip. . . . After the Blazers play their next three road games, their remaining schedule will feature 15 home games and just nine on the road. . . . Kamloops is 16-3-2 at home and 13-9-2 on the road.
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