It was a tough task for the Blades – the final game of a three-games-in-three-nights Alberta road trip, against a tough Hitmen team. After dropping the first two games in Edmonton and Red Deer, the Blades, down several players to injuries, and Nick Zajac to suspension, were looking to play the role of underdog, and return home with a victory.
Midway through the first frame, the Hitmen would strike. Seconds after Sam McKechnie was sent off for goaltender interference, Ben Thomas would score his third of the year, giving the Hitmen a quick lead. Just two minutes later, the Hitmen would light the lamp again, as Michael Zipp would slip one past Trevor Martin to make it 2-0.
“Not a great first, but we talked it over at intermission, figured out what we had to do” said captain Brett Stovin. “We needed to keep the energy up and bring it to them”.
Things were scoreless through the second, until, with just a minute left, Adam Henry would beat Evan Johnson – or would he? The referees quickly waved off the goal, saying there was goaltender interference, and the score would stay at 2-0 to end the frame.
Four minutes into the third, the Blades would get on the board, as Adam Henry would take a feed from Cory Millette and beat Evan Johnson glove side to cut the lead to one.
Midway through the period, the Hitmen would look to build on their lead, but Trevor Martin had other plans – sprawling around like Dominik Hasek, Martin would turn away shot after shot as the Hitmen peppered the net with pucks, at that point leading 45-20 in shots.
“Marty, man he was unbelievable. Fifty saves tonight. We needed to get more offence for him. When your goalie plays that well, thats all you can ask for”.
Things were looking good for the Blades at the end of the period, as they would head to the power play with two minutes left. Unfortunately, Kenton Helgesen would force a turnover, and score on a shorthanded breakaway, making it 3-1. With the net empty, the Hitmen would score once more to make the final 4-1.
“I wish I had that breakaway save” added Martin after the game. “If I make thats its a different game. I feel I played well, kept things simple, but a tough one to let get away”.
The Blades now head back to Saskatoon, where they’ll get a five day break before hosting Swift Current on Saturday the 22nd – at the teams annual Pucks & Paws game.
“We need to play in that game like we played in the third period tonight” said Stovin after the game. “All out, high intensity. We looked good in the third, we need to play to the max of our abilities like we did in the third and we can win on Saturday”.
“I hope I earn the start” said Martin. “I feel good after this game, and we’re ready to turn things around and get a big win”.