Blazers lose series opener to Winterhawks after four unanswered goals

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An early goal was not enough for the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL Western Conference Final against the Portland Winterhawks.

The Blazers lost to the Winterhawks 4-1 in Portland in the series opener.

Fourth-line Blazer Joe Kornelsen put one past Winterhawks goalie Mac Carruth just 2:10 into the first period, taking an early lead.

But the Winterhawks responded late in the first period with two goals - the first by Taylor Leier and the second by Ty Rattie on a short-handed penalty shot after a slashing call on Blazer Joel Edmundson.

The teams traded chances in a scoreless second period with the shots also even at 13 each.

Portland took control early in the third as Captain Troy Rutkowski put one past Blazer goaltender Cole Cheveldave on a rebound 3:17 into the final frame.

A goal by Brendan Leipsic with six minutes left sealed the fate of the Blazers making it 4-1 Portland.

Tensions built and seven penalties were handed out in the last two minutes including a five-minute checking from behind major to Rattie, leaving his status in question for game two.

Seven penalties were handed out leaving the Blazers on a powerplay, but unable to capitalize.

The Blazers were 0 for 5 on the powerplay while the Winterhawks were 1 for 3.

Kamloops was outshot 41-34.

The Winterhawks take the lead in the series 1-0 heading into game two in Portland 7 p.m. Saturday night.

To contact a reporter for this story, email: or call (250) 319-7494.

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