Blazers come from behind to force Game 7
By Tim Petruk - Kamloops This Week
Published: April 18, 2012 11:00 AM
Updated: April 18, 2012 11:01 AM
You have to give thanks where thanks is due.
When Kamloops Blazers defenceman Bronson Maschmeyer wired a slap shot into the back of the Portland Winterhawks' net with 20 seconds left in the third period of tonight's (April 16) Game 6 of the WHL Western Conference semi-final, he threw his hands straight up and held them there — until he was mobbed by his teammates.
"I'm not a goal scorer," the 20-year-old Bruderheim, Alta., product said after the game.
"I kind of put my hands up and said, 'Thank you, Hockey Gods.'"
The Hockey Gods of which Maschmeyer speaks must have been wearing blue and orange for the last week.
His marker with 20 seconds left sealed the deal on the unlikeliest of third-period comebacks, one which saw the Blazers score five times in the final frame to erase a three-goal deficit and force a Game 7 in the Rose City.
The Blazers fell behind three games to none in their series against the Winterhawks last week.
They overcame a 4-0 first-period deficit in Game 4 to take the series back to Portland, where a 7-2 Kamloops win set the stage for tonight's sixth game.
For much of Game 6, it did not look good for the Blue and Orange.
After 20 minutes, the Blazers found themselves trailing 3-2.
Two more Winterhawk goals in the middle frame made it a 5-2 score heading into the third.
Then, five minutes in to what appeared to many of the 5,080 fans at ISC to be the final period of the Blazers' season, the home team found life.
First, at 5:55, Marek Hrbas beat Portland goalie Mac Carruth on a shot from the point for a power play marker with Brad Ross in the penalty box to make it 5-3.
And Kamloops kept the pressure up.
Just over four minutes later, Jordan DePape banged a Brendan Ranford pass past Carruth to make it a one-goal game.
Eleven seconds after that, before the DePape goal had even been announced, Aspen Sterzer tied the game with his first career WHL playoff goal on a pass from Chase Souto.
Colin Smith gave the Blazers the lead at 15:21, with a greasy power-play marker from Dylan Willick and Brady Gaudet.
But, not even 30 seconds later, Portland's Cam Reid made it a 6-6 game with just over four minutes to play.
That set the stage for Maschmeyer's dramatic game-winner from the point — and the crowd went wild.
"It was awesome," Maschmeyer said.
"It's hard to describe. It's just awesome."
Blazer winger Jordan DePape — who was on the ice for the seventh Kamloops goal — agreed whole-heartedly.
"It felt like history, it honestly did," he said.
"It gave me chills. It gave everyone chills."
Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said he expects more of the same never-say-die attitude in Portland for Wednesday's winner-take-all Game 7.
"It's characteristic of this hockey club," he said.
"I've said it over and over again — they don't want to give up."
Winterhawk bench boss Mike Johnston, meanwhile, knows at least one thing will be different when the series shifts back to the Rose City.
"You saw what their crowd did for them in the third period there," he said.
"I thought it was a big boost, and our crowd will do that for us in Portland."
GAME NOTES: Goal scorers for Kamloops were Brendan Ranford, Bronson Maschmeyer (2), Marek Hrbas, Jordan DePape, Aspen Sterzer and Colin Smith . . . Ranford added two assists for a three-point night . . . Blazer forward Brandon Herrod tallied three assists for a three-point night of his own . . . Derrick Pouliot, Brad Ross (2), Oliver Gabriel, Brendan Leipsic and Cam Reid had goals for the Winterhawks . . . Pouliot also managed two assists for three points on the night . . . The ISC crowd booed just about every time Gabriel touched the puck — presumably because of his injurious hit on Kamloops goalie Cole Cheveldave in Game 1 . . . Shots on goal were 36-24 in the Blazers' favour . . . Kamloops scored two power-play goals on five chances, while Portland was three for five with the man advantage . . . Of the 18 skaters Kamloops dressed for Game 6, only five finished the night with negative plus-minus ratings . . . Cam Lanigan earned his third consecutive victory between the pipes . . . Brad Ross had two goals and an assist to lead Portland in scoring, but finished the night even in plus-minus . . . Just before the national anthems were sung prior to Game 6, the Blazers held a moment of silence for former franchise president Colin Day, who passed away over the weekend . . . The Blazers' bus left for Portland immediately following Game 6 . . . Cheveldave, who's been out since suffering a concussion at the hands of Gabriel, might be in the lineup on Wednesday night . . . Puck-drop for Game 7 will be just after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, at Portland's Memorial Coliseum, with the Kamloops broadcast starting at 6:30 p.m. on Radio NL . . . For in-game updates, follow Kamloops This Week's @KTWonBLAZERS Twitter account . . .
— with files from Michael Potestio