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Blazers gain ground on Rockets in WHL standings with 4-1 win over Giants

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - The Kamloops Blazers still have their sights set on first place.

The Blazers moved to within five points of the idle Kelowna Rockets in the race for top spot in the Western Hockey League's B.C. Division Wednesday with a 4-1 triumph over the basement-dwelling Vancouver Giants.

Joel Edmundson, Colin Smith, Matt Needham and Kale Kessy scored for the Blazers (38-15-5) with a 22-save performance from Cole Cheveldave.

Rookie defenceman Arvin Atwal managed the lone Vancouver (14-43-0) goal when his blast from the point beat a screened Cheveldave at 2:01 of the second.

Kamloops — which has now won eight of its last nine contests — still has five games left against their arch-rival Rockets, beginning this weekend with a home-and-home series starting Friday in Kamloops. Two of the remaining five matches between the teams are in Kelowna and three are in the Okanagan city.

Edmundson, one of the Blazers' key defencemen who was returning from a four-game suspension, got the visitors off to a good start when he opened the scoring at 12:29 of the first period, taking a breakaway pass from fellow defenceman Landon Cross to beat Giants' netminder Jared Rathjen with a shot through the five hole.

Needham and Smith added goals in the second period for the Blazers while Kessy, an ex-Giant, finished off the Kamloops scoring with the only marker of the final 20 minutes.

Rathjen took the loss in Vancouver's net as he faced 28 Kamloops shots. Cheveldave improved his record to 28-12-1-1.

The Blazers scored on one of their four power-play chances while the Giants went 0 for 6 with the extra man.

NOTES: The Giants were without six regulars due to injury or illness, including their No. 3 point-getter in Cain Franson . . . Blazer right winger JC Lipon, a member of the Team Canada juniors this year, was held off the scoresheet, but has points in six of Kamloops' last eight games.

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