On paper, the teams couldn’t be more different – the last place Saskatoon Blades against the first place Kelowna Rockets. The Blades, still angry about their heartbreaking loss to Kamloops the night before, were ready to prove they weren’t to be taken lightly, and they’re a better team than their record shows.
Things would stay scoreless until late in the first, when Kelowna would take a penalty. The Blades would make them pay, as the captain Brett Stovin, who has been hot as of late, would beat a screened Jake Morrissey to make it 1-0.
The Rockets would try to strike back, as they would have a great chance on what looked like a wide open net, but Nik Amundrud, who was phenomenal the night before in Kamloops, would make a huge glove save to keep the Blades up by one. That’s the way the period would end, as Amundrud would turn aside all 20 shots he would face, turning in a goaltending clinic that would make Dominik Hasek proud.
“Nik, man he was great again tonight”, said Assistant Coach Dean Brockman after the game. “We’re giving up too many shots, but he’s playing well for sure”.
At the start of the second, the Blades would be assessed a penalty for too many men on the ice, and it would prove to be costly, as Tyrell Goulbourne would beat Amundrud on the power play to tie it up. The Rockets would keep it going, as just a few minutes later, Dillon Dube would beat Amundrud for his first WHL goal, making it 2-1 for the home team.
Unfortunately for the Blades, the floodgates would open – Kelowna would score their third goal in ten minutes when Rourke Chartier would bury his league leading 30th goal of the year to make it 3-1. With Brett Stovin in the penalty box a few minutes later, the Rockets would strike once again, as Nick Merkley would slip one home to stretch the lead to three.
“It’s tough”, said defenceman Nelson Nogier. “Good teams like that, we need full effort all game, and we had some penalty troubles, made some bad choices, and it got us in trouble”.
Things would get wild in the third – with tempers boiling over, Nogier would drop the gloves with Riley Stadel, quickly sending Stadel to the ice. Minutes later, Nik Amundrud would decide enough was enough, and would skate to centre ice for the always rare goalie fight! As the crowd went wild, the Blades’ goaltender would exchange blows with net-minder Jake Morrissey, which would lead to both goalies getting the boot from the game.
“It’s a decision I regret”, said Amundrud after the game. “It was heat of the moment, I let my emotions get the best of me. Marty (back-up goalie Trevor Martin) isn’t feeling great, and he had to come in and play because I got tossed”.
“While it’s tough, it’s nice to see that passion” added Brockman. “Nik steeped up, showed he cared, showed some fire. It’s good to see once in awhile”.
The Rockets would add a late goal, as Chartier would score his second of the game, ultimately making it a 5-1 final.
“Now we have a day off, and than it’s game three on the trip”, said the Coach. “We need to talk, figure out a way to right the ship, and get some wins”.
The Blades next game on their trip is against the Victoria Royals on Friday.