Regina, SK – The Saskatoon Blades opened the 2017 exhibition schedule Thursday night in Regina against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Pats.
The opening period saw the ice tilted in favour of the Blades who doubled up the Pats on the shot clock 18-9, but couldn’t solve Max Paddock. Instead, Regina took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to a rebound from Jeff de Witt. Saskatoon had ample opportunity on the man advantage, but went 0/3 in the opening frame while denying Regina of their only power play opportunity.
In the second period both teams scored twice leaving the Pats still in front by one after 40 minutes. Jeff de Wit would bang in his second of the game and then on one of Regina’s four power plays in the period, import d-man Egor Zamula found the back of the net on a screen shot.
After a full calendar year away from game action, Cameron Hebig got the Blades going with a quick wrist shot over the blocker of Max Paddock. Jantzen Leslie picked up the lone assist. Then after a goalie change for Regina midway through the period, Jackson Caller got the Blades within one after one-timing a rolling puck fed to him in the high slot from Braylon Shmyr. Josh Paterson had the second assist. The goal was Caller’s first in the WHL; pre or regular season.
The goaltenders were busy at both ends as the third period began with the Blades leading 32-30 on the shot clock. Jeff de Wit netted his 3rd of the evening in the 3rd period and Tristen Robins added some insurance for the Pats’ 5th goal of the evening. In the final minute, Gage Ramsay tipped in a point shot from Aidan De La Gorgendiere who tallied his first WHL point in his first ever (pre-season) game.
Despite being an exhibition, the long standing rivalry which reached peak heights last season was on full display with two fighting majors a side. Jantzen Leslie and Bryce Platt did the deed in the 2nd period and Cole Johnson accepted an invite from Braydon Buziak in the 3rd period.
Nolan Maier went the distance stopping 36/41 shots faced while Max Paddock (22 saves) and Kurtis Chapman (12 saves) split the duties at the other end.
The Blades will give the other half of their pre-season roster a look tomorrow afternoon when they return to Regina to take on the Swift Current Broncos at 3:00pm.
The Saskatoon Blades open the 2017-18 WHL regular season at home on Friday, September 22nd versus the Swift Current Broncos. Game time is 7:00pm at SaskTel Centre.