The Saskatoon Blades dropped the second half of their two-game weekend on Saturday night, falling 4-3 to Brandon. The Wheat Kings got two goals from Rihards Bukarts in the win, including the game winner late in the third period as Brandon continued to hold on to top spot in the division.
Before the puck was dropped tonight the Blades were proud to welcome North Battleford, Saskatchewan product Andrew Albers to the game. The pitcher for the Minnesota Twins was honoured before the game with a ceremonial puck drop and would stay involved throughout the game with autographs and participation in some intermission promotions.
Once the game got underway it took a few minutes for the two teams to feel each other out to start the game. Through the first 6-plus minutes, the shots were 4-2 for the Wheat Kings, with neither team generating much in the way of a solid scoring opportunity. Brandon were first to create a good chance around the net and they made it count at 7:05. Richard Nejezchleb scored his 25th of the season as he crashed the net and slid a rebound underneath Alex Moodie to make it a 1-0 game. Saskatoon answered back with a good chance of their own just two minutes later when a centering pass from Logan Harland to Ryan Graham almost deflected past Curtis Honey on the 2 on 1 rush. The Blades then had two more good chances in the next few minutes with a Cory Millette PP shot from the half-wall being kicked out and a Clayton Kirichenko seeing-eye point shot being stopped through a crowd. Before the period was up it was Alex Moodie’s turn to wall up again as he kicked out a pair of point blank Wheat King looks in the final 3:15, getting the game to the intermission with the score sitting at 1-0 Brandon. Shots were 16-6 for the Wheat Kings in the period with Saskatoon generating the lone PP chance of the first 20 minutes.
The second period was a wild one as it featured four times as much offence as the opening 20 minutes. Logan Harland got Saskatoon on the board only 25 seconds into the frame as he banged home a rebound off a Ryan Graham chance, netting his 6th of the season to make it 1-1. Just over 8 minutes later the Blades took the lead for the first time in the game as Harland scored his second of the night, with his long wrist shot beating Honey shortside to make it 2-1 at 8:59. Dylan Busenius and Nikita Scherbak drew the assists on the goal. But the Wheat Kings had an answer. Rihards Bukarts fired one in off the post at 10:49, making it a 2-2 game from in front, scoring his 16th of the season. Under 3 minutes later Brandon regained their lead as the back and forth frame continued with Ryan Pilon sneaking in the backdoor, taking a pass from John Quenneville and beating Moodie to make it a 3-2 game. Saskatoon nearly tied the game back up in the final minute of the frame as Nick Zajac was denied on the rebound in front on the PP, but the period came to an end with the Wheat Kings leading by a goal. Shots were 16-16 in the period for a two-period total of 32-22 for the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Saskatoon came close to tying the game early in the third period as recently-recalled Ty Mappin nearly got on the board twice in a ten second span. He had rebounds on back to back Kirichenko point shots, but couldn’t beat Honey in the first few minutes. The Blades then did make a chance count at 7:07 of the 3rd period. It came on the PP as Connor Sanvido scored his 14th of the season as he streaked down the wing on the rush and lifted a high shot under the bar to make it a 3-3 game. But the Wheat Kings were once again able to answer. A point shot from Rene Hunter at 12:26 was deflected home by Bukarts beside the net as he scored his second of the game and 17th of the year to make it 4-3. The Blades pushed late, including having a point blank chance by Cory Millette on the rebound of a Busenius point shot, but the buzzer sound as the Blades dropped the game by a count of 4-3. The Blades were 2 for 5 on the PP in the game and 2 for 3 on the PK. Alex Moodie was the second star after his 43 save performance. Logan Harland was the third star, with Bukarts taking home top honours.
The Saskatoon Blades next game goes next Friday night as they play host to the Red Deer Rebels. You can find your tickets for that game by clicking here.
The Blades are also proud to be closing out the weeked with a fun party in the park on Sunday! Come on out!