Jamie Crooks’ hat trick wasn’t enough and now it’s do-or-die for the Victoria Royals.
The Kamloops Blazers won 7-5 on Tuesday and take a 3-0 series lead into Game 4 Wednesday night at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
The game was full of momentum shifts that ultimately went Kamloops’ way.
Zane Jones and Crooks scored to give the Royals a 2-0 lead in the first period but the Blazers came back to make it 3-2 on goals from Dylan Willock, Tim Bozon and Landon Cross.
Crooks then scored back-to-back goals in the second period to regain the lead 4-3. But it was short lived. The Blazers struck back with goals from Jordan DePape, Matt Needham and JC Lipon to close out the second period with a 6-4 lead.
Royals forward Austin Carroll scored to make it 6-5 early in the third but that was it for the Royals as Colin Smith scored to make it 7-5 five minutes later.
Rookie netminder Jared Rathjen started but was shaky, giving up the lead twice, though he managed 16 saves on 20 shots. Keith Hamilton replaced Rathjen late in the second period and made 10 of 12 stops.
Crooks leads the Royals with four goals and an assist, tied for fourth overall in WHL playoff goal scoring.