The Saskatoon Blades saved arguably their best effort of their road trip for last on Wednesday night, but just came up short in a 2-1 loss to the Spokane Chiefs. Mitch Holmberg scored a pair of shorthanded goals in the game, adding to his league-leading tally, while Eric Williams was also a big key in the victory for Spokane.
The game started with a pair of fantastic saves, one from each goaltender. Troy Trombley started for Saskatoon and he got in the game early. He stopped a Tyler King point shot with 17:23 to play in the first, then robbed Adam Helewka on the rebound after he looked to have a wide open cage. Then it was Eric Williams chance to show his stuff for the Chiefs. He robbed Austin Adamson on a dynamite chance five minutes into the period. He also robbed Chase Clayton several minutes later on a sliding pad save that looked to be a sure goal. Those saves would be key for Spokane as they then turned to their star for offence. With Tyler King in the penalty box for tripping, Mitch Holmberg took a feed from Liam Stewart on the penalty kill as he was left wide open in the slot. The WHL’s leading scorer didn’t miss as he deked Trombley and slid it fivehole at 17:51 for a 1-0 lead. Then the Blades came close on their own chance as a wild scramble led to a shot off the post before the Chiefs went back the other way. A wild scramble ensued around the Blades net, with Trombley making a pair of saves before the puck squirted to a wide open Holmberg and he wasn’t about to miss from the low slot. He ripped the puck home for his 33rd of the year and 2nd shorthanded goal of the night to make it 2-0 at 19:29. The shots ended up at 10-7 in the period for the Chiefs, with the teams combining to go 0 for 3 on the PP.
Early in the second period the Blades cut into the lead. Brett Stovin made it a 2-1 game after Matt Revel was able to chip a puck past Jason Fram at the blueline and walk in on a 2 on 1 rush. He fed Brett Stovin and the winger finally got a puck past Eric Williams as he went high glove side. The goal was Stovin’s 8th of the year, coming at 1:03 with Cory Millette drawing the other assist. The Blades nearly tied the game less than a minute later when Chase Clayton was stopped by the glove of Williams off a rebound attempt. The game then picked up physically when David Nemecek stepped up and rocked Riley Whittingham at the Chiefs blueline. Nemecek then had to fight Mike Aviani, who stepped in for his teammate. Nemecek was thrown from the game after being given a major for charging, a 5 minute penalty for fighting and a game misconduct. The Blades did have a pair of great chances offensively before the period came to an end. Nikita Scherbak had a look from the slot with 5:44 to play but he was stopped by Williams. Williams also robbed Ryan Graham on a 2 on 1 after he took a need feed from Graham Millar. The period ended with Spokane leading Saskatoon 2-1, with the shots favoring Spokane 14-12 in the period and 24-19 overall in the game.
The Blades had a good chance to start the third period as Valcourt found himself alone in the slot in the first 45 seconds, but his point blank wrist shot was blocked by Williams. The Chiefs goalie would continue his solid play as he got a glove on a Brett Stovin look off the rush just over 5 minutes into the period, deflecting the puck up into the netting with his catching hand. After that, the Chiefs almost extended the lead as Holmberg had his 3rd shorthanded breakaway of the night. He deked Trombley on the backhand, but was denied by the big Blades goalie. The teams continued to trade chances, but Trombley and Williams continued to steal the show. After an extended stretch of no-whistle action, Nikita Scherbak would have the best Blades chance in the final few minutes when he was stopped by Williams pad with only 40 seconds remaining. Saskatoon would call a timeout and call Trombley to the bench for the extra attacker, but couldn’t beat Williams as the Chiefs won 2-1. Saskatoon fell to 0-5 on their US Division road trip, with the final shots being 39-28 in the game.
Saskatoon now begins the trek home from Saskatoon. The team’s next game goes on December 7th at home against the Regina Pats in a special retro jersey night. You can get tickets for that game by clicking here.