KAMLOOPS, March 1, 2017 – The Kamloops Blazers defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-4 in overtime Wednesday night at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia.
The T-Birds were down 4-3 late in the third period when Keegan Kolesar scored with 12 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Seattle earned a point by getting the game to overtime and is now 40-18-4-2 and tied with the Everett Silvertips for first place in the US Division and Western Conference standings. Everett has two games in hand.
The T-Birds play the Tri-City Americans at 7:35pm on Friday at ShoWare Center. They travel to Everett to take on the Silvertips at 7:05pm on Saturday at Xfinity Arena.
The T-Birds have eight games remaining in the regular season and have clinched a playoff spot.
Kamloops (38-21-2-4) took a 1-0 lead at 8:47 of the first period when a centering pass by Garrett Pilon deflected off a T-Bird stick and past Seattle goalie Rylan Toth. Rudolfs Balcers and Ondrej Vala had the assists.
The Blazers made it a 2-0 lead 56 seconds later when Luc Smith scored from the slot on a wrist shot. Quinn Benjafield and Joe Gatenby assisted on the goal.
Seattle cut the Blazers lead to one goal at 11:15 of the first on Ryan Gropp’s 30th goal of the season. Mathew Barzal had the puck in the left corner and centered it to Austin Strand in the high slot. Strand took a wrist shot with Gropp in front of Kamloops goalie Connor Ingram. Gropp tipped Strand’s shot past the goalie.
Both teams had 10 shots on goal in the first period.
Gropp tied the game 2-2 at 18:11 of the second period just after he came out of the penalty box. A Blazers pass to the left point deflected off the stick of the intended recipient of the pass and into the neutral zone. Gropp chased down loose puck for a partial breakaway down the left wing. Gropp beat Ingram over the glove for his second goal of the game.
Seattle outshot Kamloops 15-14 in the second period and led 25-24 in shots after two periods.
The T-Birds took a 3-2 lead 3:22 of the third period. Gropp skated the puck down the left wing and at the goal line sent the puck to Barzal in the left circle. Barzal quickly crossed the puck to Kolesar who had a wide-open net. Kolesar slammed the puck into the net for his 23rd goal of the season.
The Blazers tied the game 3-3 at 5:30 of the third on a goal from Dallas Valentine.
Deven Sideroff scored at 10:02 of the third to put the Blazers in front 4-3. Balcers and Pilon had the assists on the goal that came right after a Blazers timeout.
Kolesar’s tying goal came on a wrist shot from the left circle with Toth on the bench for an extra attacker. Barzal passed the puck to Nolan Volcan on the goal line. Volcan found Kolesar in the left circle as time winded down.
Sideroff scored at 1:52 of overtime to win the game for the Blazers. The goal came after Ingram stopped a T-Bird breakaway chance by Donovan Neuls.
The T-Birds finished with a 35-33 advantage in shots.
Toth made 28 saves on 33 shots and his record is now 33-17-2-1.
Ingram made 31 saves on 35 shots and his record is 24-11-2-2.
T-Birds single game tickets for the 2016-17 season are currently on sale.
Fans can purchase single game tickets online or at the ShoWare Center box office.
First period – 1, Kamloops, Pilon 18 (Balcers, Vala), 8:47. 2, Kamloops, Smith 11 (Benjafield, J. Gatenby), 9:41. 3, Seattle, Gropp 30 (Strand, Barzal), 11:15. Penalties – Bench, Kam (too many men-served by Smith), 18:26.
Second period – 4, Seattle, Gropp 31, 18:11. Penalties – Strand, Sea (roughing), 4:26. Ottenbreit, Sea (roughing), 8:55. Zazula, Kam (interference), 14:18. Gropp, Sea (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:53. J. Gatenby, Kel (interference), 19:26.
Third period – 5, Seattle, Kolesar 23 (Barzal, Gropp), 3:32. 6, Kamloops, Valentine 2 (Benjafield), 5:30. 7, Kamloops, Sideroff 34 (Balcers, Pilon), 10:02. 8, Kolesar 24 (Volcan, Barzal), 19:48. Penalties – Adams, Sea (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:27. Volcan, Sea (roughing), 11:53. J. Gatenby, Kam (roughing), 11:53.
Overtime – 9, Kamloops, Sideroff 35 (Ingram), 1:52. Penalties – No penalties.
Shots on goal – Seattle 10-15-9 35, Kamloops 10-14-8 33. Goalies – Seattle, Toth 33 shots-28 saves (33-17-2-1); Kamloops, Ingram 35-31 (24-11-2-2). Power plays – Seattle 0-3; Kamloops 0-4. A – 3,560. Referees – Steve Papp, Nick Swaine. Linesmen – Riley Balson, Dustin Minty.