The Kamloops Blazers have 11 games remaining in their regular season, eight of them at home. They’ll play four games, three of them at home, over the next five days.
When Sunday evening arrives, the Blazers may well know whether they’ll be in the playoffs.
The Blazers (22-29-6) are five points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds (24-28-7), who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. Kamloops also is fourth in the B.C. Division, seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets (26-29-5).
The Blazers are at home to the Tri-City Americans (33-22-3) tonight, the Thunderbirds on Friday and the Vancouver Giants (41-14-4) on Saturday. On Sunday, the Blazers will meet the Giants in Langley, B.C., in a game that is to start at 4 p.m.
This will be the third time in less than two weeks that the Blazers and Americans have met. On Feb. 15, the host Americans posted a 5-3 victory. The Blazers, playing at home, dumped the Americans, 3-1, on Feb. 18.
Kamloops missed the playoffs last season and, in fact, has been on the outside looking in for three of the past five post-seasons.
This the 20th season since the Blazers last appeared in a WHL final — they lost the 1999 championship series to the Calgary Hitmen in five games.
Since then, the Blazers have missed the playoffs five times, been eliminated in the first round on 12 occasions, and been ousted in the second round once. One season, 2012-13, they lost to the Portland Winterhawks, in five games, in the Western Conference final.
While the Blazers are playing four times in five days, the Thunderbirds will spend their weekend skating three times in fewer than 48 hours. After visiting Kamloops on Friday, they will scurry to home to meet the host Everett Silvertips on Saturday, then will entertain the Tri-City Americans on Sunday.
As for Kelowna, the Rockets also will play three times in fewer than 48 hours on the weekend. They will meet the Giants in Langley, B.C., on Friday, then return home for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader with the Winterhawks.
It will be interesting to see if the water is clearer — or muddier — come Sunday evening.
The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Evan Herman to a WHL contract. Herman, 16, was a third-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. From The Pas, Man., Herman is expected to make his WHL debut tonight against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The 5-foot-9, 145-pound Herman is playing for the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy’s prep team, and has 13 goals and 13 assists in 30 games. He also has five goals and two assists in seven games with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, and three goals and an assist in three games with the Rink Academy’s 18U side.
The Spokane Chiefs announced on Monday that general manager Scott Carter had been signed to a contract extension that runs through the 2021-22 season.
On Tuesday, the Chiefs issued a correction. The extension actually is two years in length, running through the 2020-21 season.
Carter is in his third season with the Chiefs after taking over from Tim Speltz on Sept. 8, 2016. Speltz, who had been the general manager for 26 years, now is the head amateur scout with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ray Wareham has decided to step aside as head coach of the Moose Jaw Generals of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Wareham has been the Generals’ head coach for 17 seasons. . . . He will be staying on as the club’s general manager. . . . “I think I’m going to step down from coaching and, hopefully, just manage the team and get fresh faces in here and see what happens,” Wareham told Blaise Wozniak of discovermoosejaw.com. “I’ve got some other irons in the fire . . . it’s been a long time here. I’m looking forward to the new adventures ahead. My plan is to stay on as manager and to help the new guys that come in the next couple of years and then go from there.” . . . The Generals (17-24-3) missed the playoffs for a second straight season.
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The Edmonton Oil Kings erased an early 1-0 deficit with 11 straight goals as they dumped the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 11-1. . . . Edmonton (34-18-8) has won four in a row and leads the Central Division by four points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Oil Kings have won more games than in any single season since 2013-14; this is the fourth-highest victory total in the franchise’s modern history. The Oil Kings won at least 50 games in three straight seasons (2011-14). . . . The Oil Kings last hit double figures in goals on Feb. 17, 2014, when they beat the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 12-0, behind a goal and four assists from F Reid Petryk. . . . Swift Current (10-42-5) has lost 11 in a row (0-9-2). . . . F Tanner Nagel (12) gave the Broncos the lead at 3:14 of the first period. . . . Edmonton F David Kope tied it, on a PP, at 6:20, and F Andrew Fyten put the home side ahead at 13:10. . . . F Jake Neighbours (9) upped the lead to 3-1 at 13:48, and it was all Oil Kings from there to the end. . . . Fyten, who was acquired from the Broncos on Dec. 13 for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft, had two goals and two assists, his first career four-point outing. . . . Fyten, 20, had eight goals and nine assists in 27 games with Swift Current; he has nine goals and 11 assists in 27 games with Edmonton. . . . Kope had two goals for Edmonton, giving him 13, with F Scott Atkinson also scoring twice, giving him 12. Singles came from F Vladimir Alistrov (11), F Josh Williams (13), who returned after sitting while ill, F Vince Loschiavo (29) and F Trey Fix-Wolansky (31). . . . D Conner McDonald had three assists. Alistrov and Fix-Wolansky added two assists each, with Kope adding one to his two goals. . . . Fix-Wolansky has 31 goals and 61 assists in 58 games. He has reached career highs in assists and points, and his one shy of the 32 goals he scored last season. In 199 career games, he has 235 points, including 87 goals. . . . McDonald now has a career-high 43 points, in 61 games; last season, he finished with 42 in 71. . . . Edmonton, which was 3-5 on the PP, held a 38-17 edge in shots. . . . This game started at 11 a.m., as it was the Oil Kings’ annual Hockey Hooky game. The announced attendance was 13,186. . . . The Broncos are back on the ice early today as they meet the host Calgary Hitmen in their third annual Be Brave Anti-Bullying game. Game time is noon MT.
F Brandon Hagel scored two goals and added three assists to lead the Red Deer Rebels to a 7-3 victory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . Red Deer (30-24-5) had lost its previous five games, scoring 10 goals in the process. Red Deer and Brandon are tied for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Moose Jaw (34-17-8) had won three in a row. It is a comfortable third in the East Division. . . . Hagel now has three games of at least five points in his WHL career — that’s two five-pointers and a six-pointer. . . . The Rebels jumped out to a 3-0 first-period leads on goals from F Reese Johnson (22), at 10:28; Hagel, at 11:50; and F Chris Douglas, at 12:28. . . . Moose Jaw cut into the lead as D Jett Woo (12) scored, on a PP, at 3:59 of the second period. . . . However, Red Deer scored the next three goals, all in the second period, by F Josh Tarzwell (8), at 6:58; Douglas (15), at 9:20; and D Alex Alexeyev (9), on a PP, at 13:29. . . . F Luke Ormsby (7) scored, shorthanded, for Moose Jaw at 14:32. . . . Hagel (36) added an empty-netter at 11:32 of the third period, before F Carson Denomie (5) scored for the Warriors at 16:09. . . . G Ethan Anders earned the victory with 28 saves. . . . This was the start of a four-game East Division swing for the Rebels.
F Ryan Hughes scored two goals and added two assists to lead the host Saskatoon Blades to a 6-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Saskatoon (39-14-8) has won two in a row and is second in the East Division 10 points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Lethbridge (32-18-10) had won its previous three games. It is second in the East Division, four points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and six ahead of the Calgary Hitmen. . . . This was the fourth time in his career that Hughes has scored at least four points in a game. He has nine goals and 14 assists in 18 games with the Blades, who acquired him from the Portland Winterhawks earlier in the season. He had 17 goals and 23 assists in 36 games with Portland. . . . F Nick Henry (24) gave Lethbridge a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 2:20 of the first period. . . . The Blades took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Kyle Crnkovic (10), at 3:31; F Gary Haden (29), on a PP, at 1:14 of the second period; and F Chase Wouters (15), on another PP, at 12:19. . . . Lethbridge pulled into a 3-3 tie as F Jake Elmer (32) scored at 8:26 of the third period and F Logan Barlage (14) counted at 11:23. . . . Elmer has goals in nine straight games, the longest such streak in the WHL this season. He has 12 goals over that stretch. In a 10-game point streak, he has 12 goals and seven assists. . . . Elmer finished last season with 18 goals and 19 assists in 70 games; this season, he has 32 goals and 33 assists in 60 games. . . . Hughes broke the tie at 11:42, and F Kirby Dach (23) made it 5-3 at 13:52. . . . Lethbridge got back to within a goal when F Taylor Ross (31) scored at 16:03. . . . Hughes finished it when he scored his 26th goal, into an empty net, at 18:29. . . . Dach also had two assists. He now has 23 goals and 41 assists in 55 games. . . . There were a number of NHL scouts in the house, presumably to watch Dach go against Lethbridge F Dylan Cozens, both of whom are seen as early picks in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Cozens, who had one assists, now has 28 goals and 44 assists in 60 games. . . . G Nolan Maier picked up the victory with 35 saves. He is 31-10-6, 2.77, .907 this season. . . . Darren Steinke was at the game and post this piece right here to his blog.
F Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored in OT to give the Spokane Chiefs a 4-3 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Spokane (32-19-7) has points in three straight games (2-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Portland Winterhawks and two ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Prince George (17-36-8) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). The Cougars are 13 points from a playoff spot with seven games remaining. . . . The visitors took a 1-0 lead when F Jake McGrew (24) scored at 8:27 of the first period. . . . After a scoreless second period, the Cougars went ahead 2-1 on goals from F Jackson Leppard (10), at 3:47, and D Rhett Rhinehart (4), on a PP, at 7:53. . . . The Chiefs then went ahead 3-2 on goals from D Egor Arbuzov (4), at 11:38, and D Filip Kral (7), at 16:36. . . . The Cougars forced OT when F Josh Maser (25) scored at 18:47. . . . Anderson-Dolan won it with his 10th goal of the season, at 3:58, snapping home a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot. . . . Spokane F Eli Zummack had one assist to run his point streak to 14 games. He has 20 points, including 17 assists, in that stretch. . . . The Chiefs got 25 saves from G Reece Klassen, while G Taylor Gauthier stopped 30 shots for the Cougars. . . . The Chiefs are without F Erik Atchison and F Ethan McIndoe, both of whom are out week-to-week. . . . The Cougars are without D Cole Moberg, who is listed as week-to-week. . . . The same teams will play again tonight in Prince George.