How’s this for a whiplash turn in the Western Hockey League? The Kamloops Blazers, left as North Thompson road kill a few weeks ago, are now suddenly very much in the race to meet the Victoria Royals in the first round of the playoffs.
The Blazers’ 8-0 dismantling of Victoria on Wednesday, combined with the Kelowna Rockets’ salvaging a point in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Spokane Chiefs, left the Rockets one point ahead of the Blazers in the battle for third place in the B.C. Division with each team having two games remaining.
Victoria has second place sewn up in the B.C. Division and will have home-ice advantage against the Blazers or Rockets in a best-of-seven first-round playoff series beginning March 22-23 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
The Royals lost for the fourth consecutive time since they began sitting out a flotilla of both healthy and injured regulars after clinching home-ice advantage.
With nothing to play for, short-staffed Victoria had no answer Wednesday for the desperation the Blazers displayed with their season on the line.
Rookie Dylan Garand, out of the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association, recorded the 22-save shutout for Kamloops.
The Royals will close out the regular season with the annual back-to-back year-ending set against the Silvertips on Friday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre and Saturday in Everett.