OKC Opens WSHL Showcase With Win

by Eric Rodgers

Wednesday afternoon, the Oklahoma City Blazers opened up their Western States Shootout slate in Las Vegas, as they took on the Bellingham Blazers of the Northwest Division. Bellingham was part of the North Pacific Hockey League, and moved to the WSHL beginning with the 2016-17 season. Wednesday marked the first matchup ever between the two teams.

OKC started Xavier Garneau in net, as the showcase format featured two 25-minute halves. For Bellingham, Kolter Pawlick started in net.

Oklahoma City kicked off the scoring early, scoring at 2:42 of the 1st with Vitali Mikhailov stepping around Pawlick and potting the goal to make it 1-0. Bellingham's Ilya Abubakirov tied things up a few minutes later as he slammed in a loose puck in the slot to make it 1-1.

Henrik Overvall put OKC back on top at the 10:06 mark, as he deflected in a Simon Martineau point shot to make it 2-1, and that score would hold until halftime.

Dylan Koch and Lukas Lundgren scored in succession as OKC jumped to a 4-1 lead, but Bellingham was able to close the game by scoring two of their own in the latter stages of the 2nd half. In the final minute, Bellingham would pull Pawlick for the extra attacker, but it was Vitali Mikhailov scoring his second of the game into the empty net to give OKC the 5-3 win in the Battle of the Blazers.

Garneau picked up 18 saves in the win, as he improved to 8-1-0 on the season.

OKC returns to the ice on Thursday for their second game of the Showcase, as they take on the Western Division-leading Fresno Monsters. Puck drops at 8:45p Central from Vegas.