BLAZERS TALK OF TOWN AGAIN10-Aug-12
The Kamloops Blazers are once again the talk of the town.
The Blazers gave their fans one of the most memorable games in the junior season, erasing a 3-0 series deficit against the Portland Winterhawks in Game 6 with an improbable third period comeback. The home side scored five times in the final frame after trailing 5-2 when the puck dropped only to win 7-6, sending their fans into a frenzy and their team back to Portland for Game 7.
Although the Winterhawks prevailed two nights later in the decisive game, the excitement and renewed passion has left the community abuzz all summer.
"That's all people talk about -- especially Game 6," said Craig Bonner, the Blazers' vice president and general manager. "Ninety per cent of the people you talk to about the Blazers, that's the first thing that came up and how the fans and the city were proud of the team again."
The Blazers hadn't given the community much to cheer for during a stretch of 13 years without so much as a playoff series victory. Such a drought would have been difficult on any fan base, but it was even more difficult to swallow after they had witnessed three MasterCard Memorial Cup championships in a span of four years in the early-to-mid 1990s.
Their four-game sweep over the Victoria Royals in the opening round of last year's playoffs halted the streak, though it was their performance against Portland that cemented the community's interest. Season tickets are on the rise as water coolers get more crowded with the new season on the horizon.
"Kamloops has always been a tough town -- they expect winning and they expect excellence," says Bonner, who had been a defenceman for the Blazers' first MasterCard Memorial Cup victory in 1992. "I think last year it finally sunk into people how hard it is to win and how fortunate the city, the fans and the franchise was in those years."
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