Kamloops goalie Dylan Ernst earns first WHL win in victory over Royals

Blazers blast Royals, 6-3

Orrin Centazzo scored twice and Connor Zary had two assists Friday as the Kamloops Blazers doubled up the Victoria Royals 6-3 in an empty Sandman Centre, moving back into a tie for first place in the Western Hockey League’s B.C. bubble.

Goals from Centazzo and Zary had the Blazers up 2-0 by the midway point of the opening period, but a pair of second-period Victoria goals from Tanner Scott and Riley Gannon had the score tied after 40 minutes.

With Zary in the penalty box to start the third period following a face-off violation late in the second — the only Blazers penalty of the game — Brayden Tracey beat Kamloops’ Dylan Ernst at the 48-second mark to give the Royals their first lead of the night.

The Blazers tied the score just over a minute later when Quinn Schmiemann beat Victoria’s Connor Martin from Centazzo and Zary.

Reese Belton’s first of the year at 3:44 of the third was the game-winner, with goals from Centazzo and Logan Stankoven making it a 6-3 final.

Ernst made 15 saves on 18 Victoria shots for the win — the 17-year-old's first in the WHL in just his second game. Martin made 47 saves on 53 shots in the loss.

Centazzo and Zary finished the night with three points each for Kamloops.

The Blazers move to 5-1 on the strange, pandemic-shortened season, tied with the Vancouver Giants atop the B.C. Division.

Kamloops and Victoria will hit the ice again for a rematch on Sunday. Puck drop is at 2 p.m. at Sandman Centre.

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