Blazers stave off elimination in wild one at ISC
The cardiac Kamloops Blazers are still alive.
Down 4-0 to the Portland Winterhawks in Game 4 of a best-of-seven WHL Western Conference semifinal series, the Blazers scored five unanswered goals to steal a win at Interior Savings Centre (ISC) on Wednesday, April 11.
"It shows the kind of character we've been talking about in this dressing room since Day 1," Blazer forward Dylan Willick said.
"We know it takes four games to win a series. They've got three and we're not done."
Portland will take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5, which will be played in the Rose City on Saturday, April 14.
Kamloops netminder Cam Lanigan had allowed four goals on eight shots halfway through the first period.
Blazer bench boss Guy Charron said he thought about pulling Lanigan in favour of Taran Kozun, but decided against it.
Lanigan, 19, has more experience than Kozun, 17.
That, Charron said, is the only reason the Calgary product remained in the game.
"Maybe, if we have another kind of backup, probably I make the change," Charron said.
"What saved Cam is that our backup goaltender was a young goaltender and we didn't want to put him in that kind of heat."
It turned out to be the right decision.
Lanigan shut the door the rest of the way — he had luck on his side several times, too — while the players in front of him scratched and clawed their way into the lead.
When Derrick Pouliot scored his second of the game at the 10:58 mark of the first frame, Portland led 4-0.
Troy Rutkowski and Cam Reid were the other Portland scorers.
JC Lipon's marker at 12:10 of the first stanza lit the Blazers' fuse, which burned for the remainder of the game.
It was desperation hockey, and goals from Bronson Maschmeyer, Brandon Herrod and Brendan Ranford had 3,587 fans at ISC on the verge of explosion.
The Blazer barn blew up when Willick scored at 7:37 of the third period to give Kamloops a lead it would not relinquish.
Portland could not capitalize on two late power plays, thanks in large part to Lanigan, who played confidently between the pipes in the game's late stages.
"I had to trust in my teammates and give them some trust in me," Lanigan said after the game.
He finished the game with 27 saves on 31 shots.
Cole Cheveldave, the Blazers' normal starter who is out with a concussion, gave Lanigan a massive bearhug when he came off the ice.
Lanigan will start Game 5, according to Blazer media man Tim O'Donovan.
Game 6, if necessary, will be played in the River City on Monday, April 16.