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Blazers sweep Rockets
Kale Kessy was obtained at the trade deadline to add depth to the Kamloops Blazers’ roster.
The 20-year-old Shaunavon, Sask. forward has been a playoff gem since leaving the Vancouver Giants, redirecting a hard slap-pass from defenceman Joel Edmundson as the Blazers clipped the Kelowna Rockets 4-3 in overtime Wednesday night.
Kessy, a Phoenix Coyotes’ draft, beat goaltender Jordon Cooke at 2:24 of the extra frame, giving Kamloops a 4-0 Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinal series sweep.
“It just happened so fast and the whole bench is comin’ at you there for a second,” said Kessy, rehashing the winner for reporters.
“It’s just nice to get this one over with, take a few days rest and get ready for the next round.”
It was Kessy’s second marker of the night and 11th of the post-season. Ty Rattie of the Portland Winterhawks is the only other player with that many goals this playoffs.
The Blazers will play the Winterhawks – who dumped the Spokane Chiefs 4-0 in the other West semis – in the conference final, a rematch of last season’s West semifinal, which the Hawks won in seven games. Game 1 goes Friday night in Portland.
Kamloops has not competed in a conference final since 1999.
Kessy’s OT goal came on the powerplay. Kamloops was 3-for-11 on the night and Kelowna did not capitalize on its only powerplay chance.
Marek Hrbas and Matt Needham also scored in support of Cole Cheveldave. The Blazers outshot the Rockets 45-25.
Tyson Baillie, former Blazer J.T. Barnett and Cole Linaker scored for the Rockets, who received outstanding goaltending from Cooke.
He made 41 saves, bouncing back from a Game 3 performance which saw him pulled after the first period before 4,904 fans at Interior Savings Centre.
Curtis Lazar and the Edmonton Oil Kings grounded Cole Sanford and the Medicine Hat Tigers 4-2 Wednesday night to sweep their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Brady Brassart and the Calgary Hitmen held a 3-1 series stranglehold on the Red Deer Rebels going into Thursday night’s Game 5 in Calgary.