KAMLOOPS, British Columbia -- When the target is on your back, eventually someone will hit the bull's-eye.
Colin Smith scored twice and Cole Cheveldave had 30 saves to lead the Kamloops Blazers to a 3-2 victory Wednesday over the Tri-City Americans at Interior Savings Centre.
The loss was the first for the Americans (32-8-0-0) since a 6-2 setback at Kelowna on Nov. 30. They had won a franchise-record 13 consecutive games.
"Over the last 13 games, we had some pretty good bounces. Tonight, we didn't get those bounces and Kamloops did," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team remained atop the Canadian Hockey League poll for the second consecutive week. "They worked for them. It's one of those nights it could have gone either way. I thought we started slow and got better. I thought we generated enough chances to win, but they are a good team. They were ready for us. You don't get to win all the games because you play hard."
Tri-City tops the Western Hockey League with 64 points but saw its lead over the Blazers (29-10-1-2, 61 points) drop to three points in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference.
"We just have to keep going," Hiller said. "We played a great stretch of hockey, and we played well enough to make it 14. This is the toughest month of the year for us. We tuck this one away and move on. We start again Friday (at Vancouver)."
Trailing 3-1 with time running out in the third, the Americans were awarded a power play when the Blazers' Dylan Willick went to the penalty box for hooking with 2:08 left in the game.
The Americans pulled goalie Ty Rimmer for an extra attacker, and it didn't take long for Tri-City to pull within 3-2 with a goal by Jordan Messier at 18:08.
Rimmer, who finished with 25 saves, remained on the bench down the stretch. Despite a couple quality chances by the Americans, they couldn't even the score.
Smith got his first goal the night just 4:25 into the game, and Kamloops led 1-0 through the end of the second period.
Tri-City had a golden opportunity to even the score at the end of the first with an extended power play, but the Blazers, with some nice stops by Cheveldave, kept the puck out of the net.
Smith struck again at 1:07 of the third to put the Blazers up 2-0, but the Americans cut their lead in half four minutes later.
Jesse Mychan, acquired from Everett last weekend, scored his first goal with the Americans, beating Cheveldave between the pads.
Tyler Hansen put the winning goal in the net at 17:37 as his shot from the point found daylight beside Rimmer.
The Americans' top-ranked penalty kill lived up to its billing, negating all four Kamloops power plays.
NOTES: Tri-City defenseman Michal Plutnar was ranked 84th in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings that were released Wednesday. Plutnar, who has four goals, eight assists and a plus-10 rating, is the only Americans player on the list. ... Former Americans goalie Chris Driedger, now with the Calgary Hitmen, ranks 12th on the goalie list. ... Spokane coach Don Nachbaur picked up his 500th WHL win Wednesday as the Chiefs beat Everett 6-1. Of the 500 wins, 235 came behind the Americans' bench.