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Stankoven, Toporowski on Game 7 — 'It's something you dream of'

Toporowski: “That’s why we all play the game, growing up in our basements, in our garages, in the street, always dreaming of playing Game 7 and scoring the game-winning goal.”
K Luke Toporowski celebrates winner_7239
Luke Toporowski celebrates a goal earlier this season at Sandman Centre.

Logan Stankoven and Luke Toporowski, the Kamloops Blazers’ top scorers, are embracing this Game 7 moment.

“It’s something you dream of,” said Stankoven, the Kamloops product whose Blazers will play host to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 7 of the Western Conference final on Tuesday at Sandman Centre.

Added Toporowski: “That’s why we all play the game, growing up in our basements, in our garages, in the street, always dreaming of playing Game 7 and scoring the game-winning goal.”

Game time is 7 p.m. on Mark Recchi Way. The tilt will mark the first Game 7 in Kamloops since the Blazers throttled the Saskatoon Blades 8-1 in the 1994 WHL final.

Stankoven and Toporowski, who started alongside Caedan Bankier in Game 6, combined for 13 points in the first three games of the series against Seattle.

They have been held to two points since, both assists from Stankoven.

“The first three games, our line was clicking and we were putting the puck in the net and then, obviously, their coach made some comments about their top guys not shutting us down and they responded well and they’ve shut us down the last three games,” Stankoven said.

“It’s not been easy. They’ve got their two bigger defencemen in [Tyrel] Bauer and [Ryan] Gottfried out there against our line and they like to put [Jordan] Gustafson’s line out against us, as well. Tomorrow night, having home-ice advantage, hopefully we can take full advantage of that.”

Toporowski is expecting a low-scoring, tight game in the do-or-die series finale.

“They’re definitely shutting us down,” Toporowski said. “They’re doing a good job of it. We just have to stay the course. We can’t get too frustrated. We’ve got to try and find things to open it up tomorrow night.”

The addition of Toporowski at the WHL trade deadline has proven to be astute.

He registered 34 points, including 20 goals, in 22 regular-season games with Kamloops and has added nine goals and 23 points in 15 playoff contests.

“If we can get out there against maybe guys that aren’t their shut-down guys, that will be pretty crucial and can be a game-changer, for sure,” Toporowski said.

“It’s going to be awesome. We’ve all been looking at the arena map. It looks like it’s going to be a good crowd. It will be loud. We’re all ready for it.”

Seattle and Kamloops have alternated wins in the series. The pattern, if it holds true, has the home team emerging victorious on Tuesday.

The hometown dynamo, who has 17 goals and 30 points in 16 playoff games, would love to play a prominent role in helping his Blazers reach the league final for the first time since 1999.

“I’ve got to show up and bring my best game,” Stankoven said. “They’re going to be fighting for their lives, as well. It’s one-game knockout. Whoever shows up and wants it more is going to come out on top.”