Young guns and old guard getting it done for the Blazers

By Earl Seitz
March 14, 2019 - 3:01pm Updated: March 14, 2019 - 5:56pm

KAMLOOPS — It's between Kamloops and Kelowna.

One will move on to play Victoria in the first round of the playoffs, the other one goes home.

The Rockets go into the final weekend of the season one point ahead of the Blazers after an overtime loss to Spokane Wednesday night.

The Blazers were at home to the Royals in a potential first round playoff preview, beating Victoria 8-0.

Last night's offensive explosion was the Blazers highest scoring game since an 8-1 win over the Kootenay Ice December 17, 2016 in Cranbrook.

The best players were the best players.

Brodi Stuart scored the game's first goal, which turned into the game winner, and tacked on four assists.

16-year-old Josh Pillar with a goal and set up two more.

 Kyrell Sopotyk has improved with every game down the stretch drive, scoring his 12th of the season and assisting on another one.

 Ryley Appelt scored his fourth of the season and second in as many games.

 Zane Franklin had two — with Orrin Centazzo picking up his two helpers on both goals.

 And Jermaine Loewen scored his 26th of the season and set up two more.

"It's a very simple formula for us," says head coach Serge Lajoie. "We can't be anything but a hard working team. Franklin showed a lot of leadership in that regard, and was rewarded and played the game the right way. Jermaine Loewen played the game the right way, was physical and was rewarded, and just set the tone for everybody else. When I look at the younger guys — the Pillars, the Sopotyks, Schmiemann of course, he was injured — but those young guys, Zary, when they're able to contribute this late in the season it speaks to development."

They've scored 13 times in the last two games — five against Spokane on Tuesday night.

All 13 have had some similarity.

To reference a basketball term — scoring in the lane, or in the paint.

"It's not easy getting to the inside," says Serge Lajoie. "A big difference I see in our team is that we are fighting for that ice right now. That's why I'm impressed with the young guys.  

 They've really worked their way into understanding how to play the game, and working to the inside of the game."  

 Another of the young guys is Dylan Garand, who is 4-and-0 since taking over from injured Dylan Ferguson.

 Garand made 22 saves against Victoria for his first career shutout, and has allowed only three goals on 105 shots in four games.

 "I never played for a month — so I never know when I'm going to play next when Fergie comes back," says the 16-year old Garand. "I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunites, get better with the games and just enjoying the experience overall."   


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