The good news is the Kamloops Blazers will have some time to rest ahead of the Memorial Cup.
The bad news is their playoff run is over, those hopes dashed Monday at Sandman Centre by the Seattle Thunderbirds in a hard-fought 4-2 defeat.
"We’re close, but close isn’t where we want to be," Blazers head coach Shaun Clouston said after the game. "We’ve got two and a half weeks to get rested and regroup and get ready for the tournament."
Dylan Sydor and Matthew Seminoff scored for the Blazers. Jared Davidson, Sawyer Mynio, Kyle Crnkovic and Reid Schaefer were the goal scorers for the Thunderbirds.
Sydor opened the scoring at 15:57 of the first period and Davidson evened the score at 4:46 of the second. The T-Birds scored twice in the third period to take a two-goal lead before Seminoff got the Blazers back within one with 1:43 remaining.
But that was all the magic the Blazers could muster. Despite some sustained pressure late with an extra attacker, Seattle weathered the storm, added an empty-netter and held on for the win.
Blazers captain Logan Stankoven described the loss as "super disappointing."
"It’s just a tough ending. It was my third chance now in the playoffs. It felt a lot like last year — just a real sour taste in our mouth. But we have the tournament coming up now so we can’t dwell on it for too long," he said.
"When you come up short it’s never a good feeling. We’ve got two and a half weeks now to regroup. I’m going to do everything I can to rest up and get ready to go."
Dylan Ernst made 39 saves on 42 shots in a losing effort. Thomas Milic stopped 27 of 29 Kamloops shots to earn the win in net.
Announced attendance at Sandman Centre was a standing-room-only 5,364.
The Game 6 win clinches the WHL Western Conference championship for the Thunderbirds for the second consecutive year. They advance to play the Winnipeg Ice in the WHL championship series, which will get underway Friday in Winnipeg.
Seattle head coach Matt O'Dette said after the game he was glad to not have to play a seventh game.
"It was nice to have a couple cracks at it, but you never want to leave it to a Game 7 where it’s virtually a coin flip and you’re at the mercy of bounces," he said. "We needed that urgency to finish the job and we had that tonight."
The Blazers are hosting the Memorial Cup, which will get underway at Sandman Centre on May 26 when they take on the QMJHL champion — either the Quebec Remparts or the Halifax Mooseheads.