Blazers earn final WHL playoff spot

Photo Courtesy of Kamloops Blazers Twitter Brodi Stuart celebrates after scoring in the third period of the Kamloops Blazers' 5-1 win over the Kelowna Rockets Tuesday.

After finding themselves seven points out of a playoff spot on March 5, the Kamloops Blazers are headed to the post-season.

The Blazers clinched third place in the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division Tuesday with a 5-1 home win in a tiebreaker game with the Kelowna Rockets and will now face the Victoria Royals in the first round of the playoffs.

The turning point of the contest came midway through the third period as Connor Zary and Brodi Stuart scored a pair of shorthanded goals during a Rockets power play as goaltender Roman Basran misplayed the puck behind his net on two occasions.

In between those goals, the Blazers also had a penalty shot but Kobe Mohr was turned aside by Basran.

Zary led the way for the Blazers with a goal and an assist as his team will return to the post-season after a one-year absence.

Kyrell Sopotyk, Jermaine Loewen and Mohr also scored for the hosts, who received a 27 save performance from Dylan Garand.

Mark Liwiski had the lone goal for the Rockets, who will miss out on post-season play for the first time since 2007 and have become the first team to not qualify for the playoffs the year before they host the Memorial Cup.

Basran made 30 saves before he was pulled with 9:48 to go, which led to James Porter finishing out the game and stopping five shots.

Savoie Commits to Denver

With the top pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft set to be determined via a lottery on Wednesday morning, the best prospect available has made his future plans known.

Forward Matthew Savoie announced on Monday night that he would be committing to the NCAA’s Denver Pioneers for the 2021-22 season, which is when he would be eligible for the NHL Draft.

The 15-year-old, who was seeking to enter the league a year but had reportedly not been granted exceptional status, had 71 points in 31 games this season as an underage player for the Northern Alberta Xtreme prep program.

Savoie’s older brother Carter, who was a ninth round pick by the Regina Pats in the 2017 WHL Draft, has committed to Denver for the 2020-21 campaign and is currently playing for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders.