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Blum reaches milestone in Giants win

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The Canadian Press
3/9/2009 1:53:41 AM
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The Vancouver Giants returned to their winning ways thanks to a big night from their top defenceman.

Jon Blum recorded his 200th and 201st  Western Hockey League career points, both on assists, as the Vancouver Giants defeated the Kamloops Blazers 5-2 Sunday night.

The Giants, who have already clinched first place in the Western Conference, improved to 56-8-2-3 while the Blazers, assured of finishing third, dropped to 32-31-2-4.

Vancouver got back on track after a rare two-game losing streak. Kamloops, the hottest club in the WHL before Sunday, saw its win streak end at four games.

James Wright, Garry Nunn, Alex Rodgers, Brendan Gallagher and Evander Kane, with his 45th goal of the season, scored for the Giants. However, Blum, chosen the first star, was the player that everybody was talking about after he played both right wing and his usual defenceman post.

Kenton Dulle and Jimmy Bubnick replied for the Blazers.

Elsewhere in the WHL it was: Edmonton 2 Lethbridge 1; Portland 2 Everett 0; Kootenay 5 Medicine Hat 2; and Regina 7 Moose Jaw 2.

At Vancouver, Blum's assists on two third-period goals helped the Giants put the game out of reach after Kamloops goaltender Justin Leclerc, who made 39 saves, stoned them for the equivalent of two periods.

The Giants outshot the Blazers 44-24 but only led 1-0 after both the first and second periods.

Vancouver went two-for-eight on the power play while Kamloops capitalized on two of seven man-advantage opportunities.

It was Vancouver's third game in three nights.

Blum, one of the WHL`s top defencemen, played most of the game as a right-winger. In penalty-killing situations, he was deployed as a third defenceman in the neutral zone and forward in the defensive zone. But he reverted to his role as a power-play quarterback except for when he won a face-off with one second left in a two-man advantage in the second and as a defenceman during a five-on-three disadvantage.

The memorable effort came in only his third game back after he had missed 10 with a shoulder injury.

Wright gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead midway through the first period as he came out of the penalty box, took a long lead pass from Evander Kane, and scored on a breakaway.

The Giants dominated the second period, outshooting the Blazers 19-8, but they could not beat Leclerc. He made highlight-reel saves on Kane and Wright and caught a break as Craig Cunningham's wrist shot hit the corner of the post and crossbar in the final minute.

Nunn gave Vancouver a 2-0 advantage at 1:43 of the third period as he deflected Blum`s wrist shot from the blue-line. The goal came as Vancouver coach Don Hay double-shifted Blum first as a winger and then as a defenceman on the scoring play.

With the assist, Blum recorded his 200th career WHL point.

Rodgers, who started the season with Kamloops before being traded to Vancouver, capitalized on another deflection of a Blum point shot on a power play at 8:10 of the final frame and Gallagher increased the Giants' lead to 4-0 about two and a half minutes later.

But Dulle, during a two-man advantage, and Bubnick, on the ensuing one-man advantage, scored power-play goals less than a minute apart to reduce the Blazers' deficit to 4-2.

Kane closed out the scoring with an empty-netter in the final minute.

Oil Kings 2 Hurricanes 1

At Edmonton, the Oil Kings moved into sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a win over Lethbridge.

Mark Pysyk and Brendan Dowd scored for Edmonton (28-31-4-5).

Zach Boychuk replied for Lethbridge (34-30-3-2).

Winter Hawks 2 Silvertips 0

At Portland, Ore., Chris Francis scored his 19th goal of the season as the Hawks beat Everett.

Radim Valchar also scored for Portland which improved to 18-46-2-2.

Winterhawks goaltender Curtis Mucha stopped 19 shots his second shutout of the season, while at the other end Thomas Heemskerk made 24 saves for Everett (26-33-7-2).

Ice 5 Tigers 2

At Cranbrook, B.C., Kootenay captain Andrew Bailey scored two third period breakaway goals in a win over Medicine Hat.

Kevin King, Drew Czerwonka and Dominik Pacovsky also scored for Kootenay (35-29-2-3).

Tomas Kundratek and Josh Koper replied for the Tigers (35-28-4-3).

Pats 7 Warriors 2

At Moose Jaw, Sask., Jordan Weal scored twice and Regina had six power-play goals in eight opportunities in a rout of the Warriors.

Matt Strueby had a goal and two assists for the Pats (27-36-1-5), while Victor Bartley, Matt Robertson, Garrett Mitchell and Brett Leffler also scored.

Cody Smuk and Travis Hamonic replied for the Warriors (18-48-1-2).


Vancouver Giants (Photo: TSN)

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(Photo: TSN)
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