The Saskatoon Blades grinded out a win over the rival visiting Prince Albert Raiders on 90’s night on Friday. Saskatoon got goals from Nick Zajac, Brett Stovin and Cory Millette, with Troy Trombley making 41 saves, as they defeated Prince Albert 3-1.
Before the puck dropped to start the game, the Blades made sure to honour a few members of each team. Both athletic therapist Steve Hildebrand (Team Canada) and defenceman David Nemecek (Team Czech Republic) were honoured for their recent participation in the World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden. The Blades also recognized Raiders Leon Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey for taking part in the event. Cameron Hebig was also recognized as the Blades forward took part in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge for Team West, with Raiders Brendan Guhle, Matteo Gennaro and Nick McBride also getting a mention.
After that, the puck dropped. The Raiders came out strong to start the game, pinning the Blades in the defensive zone for the first 4 minutes of action. But the Blades got a strong performance in the frame from Troy Trombley as the goaltender made key stops on Dakota Conroy, Sawyer Lange, Shane Danyluk and former Blade Collin Valcourt. Then it was the Blades chance for a good chance and they made it count at 6:04. After a turnover in the defensive zone by Prince Albert, Cory Millette found himself in all alone. He deked and was stopped by Cole Cheveldave, but had the presence to jam home the rebound to make it 1-0 with his 10th of the season. The Blades nearly doubled the lead late in the period when Ryan Graham fed Logan Harland on a broken-down 2 on 1 rush, but Harland was just stopped by the pad of Cheveldave to keep it a 1-0 game through 20 minutes. Shots were 13-8 for the Raiders in the frame, with Trombley answering all the Prince Albert chances.
The second period followed up where the first period left off in terms of intensity between the bitter division rivals. The physical frame got started with a great Blades chance as Scherbak tried a slippery feed to Hebig across the slot on a 2 on 1 rush, with the puck bouncing just wide of his stick. The Raiders answered with their own chance before the 5 minute mark as Draisaitl used his big body to take the biscuit to the cage, getting turned away by Trombley. The chances continued back and forth when Connor Sanvido fed Harland for a chance, only to have his fluttering shot be turned aside. With 7:25 to play in the frame the Blades finally beat Cheveldave again, but couldn’t beat the iron as Scherbak rang it off the iron after a point blank chance from in front. The Raiders got the best chance of the closing minutes when Morrissey dangled the puck to the top of the crease, only to have Trombley get his big pad down along the ice to shut the door and maintain the Blades 1-0 lead through 40 minutes. Shots were 15-10 in the period for the visiting Raiders, with the Blades putting up 10 for a two period total of 28-18.
The third period turned out to be a wild one. The story of the frame ended up being goaltender Troy Trombley. He kicked off the frame with fantastic stops on Tomas Andrlik and Sawyer Lange, as well as making a big stop at 3:43 at the tail end of a Raiders PP. Arguably the best chance of the first 10 minutes of the frame went to former Blade Collin Valcourt as he was stopped point blank by the pad of Trombley to keep it a 1-0 game. After the key stops, the Blades turned to their offence to extend their lead. Nick Zajac made it a 2-0 game after some nice passing by Hebig and Scherbak, with the Russian forward sliding the biscuit in front to Zajac as he netted his 9th of the year, jamming the puck past Cheveldave. The Raiders then had a chance to get closer with a timeout and the goalie on the bench. They made the most of the extra attacker, sliding a puck home at 18:20 as Jayden Hart broke up the shutout bid with a spinning play to make it 2-1. But the lead didn’t last long. 40 seconds later Brett Stovin was working hard on the forecheck and the pulled goalie ended up biting the Raiders as Stovin forced the puck off the stick of Lange and into his own net. The own goal made it 3-1 as Stovin got credit for his 11th to ice the Blades victory. Troy Trombley was the first star, making 41 saves for the win. Scherbak took home second star with Morrissey being the third. On special teams the Blades were 0 for 3 on the PP and 5 for 5 on the PK.
The Blades next game goes on Saturday night against the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Blades are proud to be welcoming special guest Andrew Albers, local product and pitcher for the Minnesota Twins to the game! Get your tickets for the meeting with Brandon right here.