Lindgren's short-hander stands as game winner as Blazers hang on to top Giants 2-1

Shorty lifts Blazers to win

Mats Lindgren scored the game-winner short-handed early in the second period at Sandman Centre on Wednesday as the Kamloops Blazers held on to beat the Vancouver Giants 2-1 — the third consecutive win for the Blue and Orange.

Luke Toporowski opened the scoring at 13:05 of the first period, a power play goal set up by Matthew Seminoff and Logan Stankoven. The goal was Toporowski’s fourth with the Blazers in three games since he was acquired from the Spokane Chiefs last week at the WHL trade deadline.

Lindgren’s short-handed marker came 57 seconds into the second period with Toporowski in the box for high sticking. He was assisted by Caedan Bankier and Ethan Brandwood.

Fabian Lysell scored the lone Vancouver goal at 12:39 of the third from Cole Shepard and Alex Cotton. That was all the offence the Giants would muster.

Dylan Garand made 27 saves on 28 Vancouver shots in the win. Giants goalie Jesper Vikman made 27 saves on 29 Kamloops shots.

The win moves the Blazers to 25-11-1-0 on the season, still good for first in the WHL’s B.C. Division — seven points up on the second-place Kelowna Rockets (20-10-1-3), who beat the Victoria Royals (12-21-4-1) in a shootout on Wednesday night on Vancouver Island.

The Giants fall to 16-18-2-0 with the loss. They are two points back of Prince George (17-19-1-1) and five points up on the cellar-dwelling Royals.

Those Royals will visit Sandman Centre this weekend for games on Friday and Saturday night. Puck drop both nights is 7 p.m.

The Blazers will then hit the road for a rematch with the Giants in Langley on Sunday.

Kelowna Rockets win 8th straight over Victoria, edging Royals 4-3 Wednesday

Late goal lifts Rockets

Jake Lee snapped a 3-3 tie with less than two-minutes left in regulation time, lifting the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-3 win over the Victoria Royals Wednesday.

The goal, Lee's third game winner of the season, allowed the Rockets to leave the provincial capital with back-to-back wins, while earning them their eighth straight win over the Royals.

Lee took a pass from Colton Dach inside the Royals blueline, deked a defender,moved to the slot and beat Tyler Palmer five-hole.

After a scoreless first, the Rockets took control in the middle frame.

Andrew Cristall struck first, beating a defenceman wide on a one-on-one break before beating Palmer between the wickets with a backhand from the right circle.

Mark Liwiski doubled the lead with his second in as many night minutes later. Off the rush on the left wing, Liwiski slid to the centre of the ice and rifled a wrist shot in off the near post.

After the Royals cut the deficit in half, John Babcock restored the two-goal lead with his first career goal, and one of the strangest he'll likely ever score.

Off a faceoff in the neutral zone, Babcock rimmed the puck around the boards, it hit a stanchion or part of the dasher, ricocheted off an unsuspecting Palmer and into the net.

Bailey Peach and Matthew Hodson brought the Royals even in the third before Lee's late game heroics secured the one-goal victory.

Rookie Jari Kykkanen turned aside 21 shots to earn his first career WHL victory in his first start.

Wednesday's win was the Rockets 20th of the season as they hit the halfway point of the regular season.

Their 44 points are second in the BC Division, seven behind Kamloops with three games in hand.

The Rockets are in Vancouver Friday before hosting the Giants back at Prospera Place Saturday.

Pavel Novak scored the only goal of a shootout in Tuesday's 4-3 win in Victoria

Rockets extra time win

The Kelowna Rockets were forced to work a little longer and dig a little deeper in the first of back-to-back games in Victoria Tuesday.

The Rockets erased a 3-1 deficit with two unanswered goals in the third then, after a scoreless overtime, rode Pavel Novak's shootout goal in a 4-3 victory.

It was the Rockets seventh win in a row over the Royals.

Jake Poole opened the scoring with his 11th of the season. He took a drop pass from Colton Dach, made a toe drag move past a defenceman before beating Campbell Arnold.

The goal runs Poole's consecutive goal streak against the Royals to six game.

The Royals took advantage of their opportunities in the second, scoring three unanswered goals on just nine shots to grab a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes. Bailey Peach with two and Reggie Newman staked the Royals to the two goal lead.

Scott Cousins started the comeback three minutes into the third. Marcus Pacheco chipped the puck into the Victoria zone, won a battle along the wall, and hit Cousins streaking through the slot.

Cousin's shot beat Arnold high to the blocker side.

Mark Liwiski, back in the lineup after serving a two-game suspension, tied it just past the midway mark of the third beating a sprawling Arnold from in close.

Neither team was able to settle things through the rest of the third and three-on-three overtime, necessitating the shootout.

Novak beat Arnold from about 20 feet out with a wrist shot high to the glove side on the first shot of the shootout.

Talyn Boyko turned all three Royals shooters away to preserve the victory.

Boyko stopped 18 of 21 shots he faced to earn the win.

The same two teams meet again Wednesday in Victoria.

The Rockets conclude their three game trip in Vancouver Friday before hosting the Giants Saturday.

Kelowna Rockets cleared to return to the ice

Rockets return to the ice

The Western Hockey League Monday cleared the Kelowna Rockets to return to team activities.

The Rockets were told to pause all activities last week after several players or staff were placed in COVID-19 protocol after either testing positive for the virus, or exhibited symptoms.

The Rockets cleared protocols Monday.

The announcement means the Rockets have made their way to the island where they are scheduled to face the Victoria Royals in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday.

Two games last week, in Everett Friday and Vancouver Saturday, were postponed. The Everett game has been rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 6.

The Rockets road swing continues in Vancouver Friday. They will host the same Giants Saturday at Prospera Place.

The league did not announce how many players or staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

More WHL articles