Blazers drop Game 1 in Portland
If hockey games were 40 minutes long, the Kamloops Blazers would be leading their WHL Western Conference semi-final against the Portland Winterhawks.
But, they’re not — and now the Blue and Orange are down one game to none in the best-of-seven series.
An epic third-period collapse saw the Blazers blow a two-goal lead in the final frame, falling 5-3 in Game 1 at Portland’s Memorial Arena.
Kamloops opened the scoring early — just 24 seconds in to the first period — when Matt Needham beat Winterhawks’ goalie Mac Carruth.
Brendan Ranford made it 2-0 at 7:56 of the first, and Kamloops took a two-goal lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes.
Ty Rattie got Portland on the board five minutes in to the second period, but Kamloops’ fourth line responded four minutes later when Chase Souto tallied an unassisted marker at 9:11 to make it 3-1.
Then it was all Portland, starting midway through the third period when Sven Bartschi beat Cole Cheveldave to get the ‘Hawks back to within a single goal.
Just over a minute later, Rattie tied the game with his second of the night.
Portland’s Brad Ross made it 4-3 for the home team with a power-play marker at 14:47 of the third.
Ross iced it for the Winterhawks with his second goal of the game — a short-handed empty-netter at 19:31.
The Blazers were outshot 16 to 7 in the final frame.
Bartschi and Rattie each tallied four points on the night.
Cheveldave made 41 saves on the night, compared to Carruth’s 26.
Kamloops didn’t score in four power-play opportunities, while Portland finished one for two with the man advantage.
Game 2 is slated for tomorrow night (April 7) in Portland, followed by games three and four on Tuesday and
Wednesday in Kamloops.