Saskatoon, SK – The Saskatoon Blades returned for the second half of the season with a 4-2 victory over their arch rivals to take sole possession of the final wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The win moves the Blades to 35 points on the season with a 16-17-2-1 record. It’s also Saskatoon’s 5th win in their last 6 games.
Saskatoon opened the scoring in the first five minutes thanks to a nifty deflection by Josh Paterson. The 18-year-old forward pulled a point shot from Mark Rubinchik out of mid-air to tip it behind Ian Scott for his 13th of the season. Then near the midway point of the opening frame, Saskatoon was awarded their first power play of the game and did not pass up the opportunity. Braylon Shmyr attempted to feed Josh Paterson in tight but the puck was tipped out into the high slot where Cameron Hebig made no mistake finding the back of the net. Kirby Dach had the secondary assist on the goal, but would later leave the game with an upper body injury and did not return.
Prince Albert stormed right back to tie the game however, scoring twice within a minute before the first period was over. The first coming from Brett Leason; a wrist shot that Nolan Maier got most of with his glove but the momentum of the shot saw the puck trickle in. The second was another trickler, this time form Devon Skoleski on a breakaway. Again, Maier got most of the puck but it still managed to roll in before a Blades’ stick could intervene.
Saskatoon got back to work in the second period as Gage Ramsay stripped the puck away from a Raider defender before dealing to Cam Hebig who was all alone in tight. Hebig made a slick deke to the backhand for his 2nd of the night and 28th of the season to restore the lead for Saskatoon. Just 1:02 later the Blades struck again as Jackson Caller joined in on the rush and backhanded in a rebound for his 2nd of the season.
The 4-2 score after 40 minutes held up through the 3rd as the final, despite a late flurry of chances from the Raiders with the net empty. The two rivals will meet again for round 4 of the season series on Thursday night in Prince Albert.
Ian Scott had a busy night in goal for the Raiders stopping 38/42 shots faced which earned him 3rd star honours. Braylon Shmyr’s 3 assists were good enough for 2nd star honours while Cam Hebig’s pair of goals earned him the call out for 1st star of the game.
Nolan Maier picked up his 8th career win in the WHL, and 5th in as many recent starts. Josh Paterson also had a multi-point performance adding an assist to his 13th goal of the season and Gage Ramsay returned with some flare adding an assist and 7 penalty minutes after a spirited bout in the first period with Prince Albert’s Carson Miller.
After Thursday night in Prince Albert the Blades will visit the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday and then host those same Broncos on Monday, January 1st at SaskTel Centre at 2:00pm.