Blazers look to build momentum against Royals
The Victoria Royals will not be kings of the B.C. Division this season, but the Kamloops Blazers still have a shot at the throne.
Kamloops welcomes Victoria to Interior Savings Centre on Tuesday, March 5, in what might be a first-round playoff preview.
If the Blazers cannot catch the Kelowna Rockets, who hold a three-point lead atop the division with a game in hand on the second-place Blue and Orange, then they will meet Victoria in Round 1.
Game time tonight is 7 p.m. Cole Cheveldave is expected to start in net for Kamloops.
The Royals have posted a 1-7-1-1 record in their last 10 games, but Blazer captain Dylan Willick is not letting his guard down.
“They’re a team that works hard,” Willick said.
“They’re not going to give us anything, like we’ve seen in a couple games where they came back on us.
“Maybe they’re not playing as good as they want to, but at any moment they can score goals.”
Kamloops is coming off a three-win weekend in which it downed lowly Prince George and Vancouver before blanking the Rockets 3-0 on Sunday, March 3, at ISC.
“Everybody’s finding their place,” Willick said.
“All of our defencemen are going. Cheveldave is playing great. The forwards have found some chemistry in their lines. It’s a good time for that to happen.”
Forwards might have found chemistry “in their lines,” as Willick said, but there is likely still some juggling to be done before the post-season arrives.
Matt Needham’s absence from the lineup due to an upper-body injury (he is not expected to return this week) has forced Blazer head coach Guy Charron to experiment with different pairings.
JC Lipon landed on a line with Cole Ully and Brendan Ranford on Sunday.
The Regina product scored a hat trick and the unit combined for seven points.
Ully had found chemistry on a line with Needham and Chase Souto before the centre from Penticton was injured.
If the Blazers do surpass the Rockets and repeat as division champions, then a first-round matchup with either Everett or Seattle will be in the cards.
Willick, as one would expect, said his team is more concerned with its own play than which opponent it will meet in the first round.
“Ultimately, winning the division title is what we want,” said Willick, who’s racked up 15 goals and 29 points in an injury-shortened season.
“Looking at it in a sense of who we’re playing in the first round, we’re comfortable playing anybody.
“We’re a confident team.”