The Kamloops Blazers showed why they are the class of the BC Division so far this season.
The Blazers won an eighth consecutive game on Sunday afternoon, skating away with a one-sided 4-0 victory over the host Vancouver Giants at Langley Events Centre.
It capped a perfect weekend for the division leaders who went 3-for-3, outscoring the Tri-City Americans (their opponent both Friday and Saturday) and the Giants a combined 25-3.
Vancouver was also in search of a third victory in as many days, coming off back-to-back 4-1 and 6-2 wins over the Victoria Royals in a home-and-home series which saw the teams play in Langley on Friday and the provincial capital the next night.
Against their other division rivals (Kelowna, Prince George and Victoria) Vancouver is a combined 9-4-1-1 but the Blazers continue to be a puzzle the Giants seem unable to solve as they are 0-3-1-0 and have been outscored 18-3 in those four games.
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Kamloops is 30-11-2-1 on the season with a 10-point lead atop the division while Vancouver sits in fourth place at 19-19-2-2 and 42 points. And while the Giants have a nine-point cushion in their quest for a third straight trip to the Western Hockey League playoffs, if the post-season were to begin today Vancouver would draw Kamloops in the opening round.
The Giants and Blazers still have five head-to-head matchups between now and the end of the regular season.
“In order to beat that team a lot of things have to go right for us. You have got to stay close and you can’t beat yourself. I am not sure we beat ourselves today, but we got ourselves into a hole we couldn’t get out of,” said Giants head coach Michael Dyck.
Coming off a pair of impressive victories over the Royals, the Giants didn’t do themselves any favours on Sunday, taking a pair of offensive zone penalties in the first 4:01 and while they successfully killed the former, they could not do so on the latter with Orrin Centazzo opening the scoring at the 4:35 mark.
Just over four minutes later, Logan Stankoven doubled the lead and 1:47 later, Libor Zabransky made it 3-0. For the period, the Blazers had four power-play chances and a 17-7 advantage in shots on goal.
“It was hard to generate energy because of the penalties (and) we could never really recover,” Dyck said.
The Blazers held Vancouver to 11 shots on goal through two periods and 40-21 for the game with Dylan Garand earning his third shutout of the season. It was also the second straight goose egg for Kamloops following Saturday’s 9-0 win over the Americans.
The game’s final goal came on another Kamloops’ power-play opportunity as Connor Zary cashed in with 2:04 to play. The Blazers were 2-for-7 with the man advantage while the Giants earned just a single power-play opportunity.
The Giants are off until Thursday (Jan. 23) when they host the Everett Silvertips at Langley Events Centre.
Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.
Vancouver also has a home-and-home series with the Kelowna Rockets, Saturday (Jan. 25) at 7 p.m. in Langley and Sunday in Kelowna.