Saskatoon, SK – Cam Hebig’s long awaited return to the lineup didn’t disappoint fans in Saskatoon as the veteran found the back of the net helping the Blades to their first win of the season. Blades reigning scoring champ, Braylon Shmyr, burst out of his slump with 2 goals and an assist including the game winner to earn first star of the game. Saskatoon now sits at 1-2 on the year, and will have another week to prepare for a pair of games next weekend.
While neither side registered a shot on goal to start the game, the Blades controlled possession though unable to break through. Eventually the Hitmen broke under the pressure as Braylon Shmyr scored his first goal of the season at the 14:13 mark of the first period. Michael Farren carried the puck down the right side before finding Shmyr in the slot, who dragged the puck back and ripped it in to open the scoring with his first of the season.
Less than 3 minutes later, Kirby Dach scored his first of the season, cruising in and shooting from a tight angle to beat Matthew Armitage short side high. Gage Ramsay and Libor Hájek picked up the helpers. With Dach’s goal, the Blades scored 2 goals off of their first 3 shots.
It was a long time coming, but at with 8:49 remaining in the period, Calgary responded. Matteo Gennaro scored a short-handed goal through Ryan Kubic‘s 5-hole.
Caleb Fantillo re-established the Blades’ 2 goal lead for his second snipe of the season, setting the score at 3-1 with 4:19 left in the first period.
The Hitmen persisted however, cutting the lead to one with 2:29 left in the period. As a mad scramble ensued in front of the net, bodies piled up left and right, obscuring the goal crease. Hitmen forward Mark Kastelic found a way to slip it in among the havoc while Layne Toder collected the lone assist.
Saskatoon started the second period with a power play opportunity but found themselves on the back foot as Calgary tied the game within the first 5 minutes of play through Jakob Stukel assisted by Jake Kryski.
The pong match continued meaning it was the Blades’ turn to score. Cycling the puck down low after receiving it from Hebig, Shmyr carried the puck behind the net before dishing it back to the blue line. There, it was received by Hájek, who fired a booming slap shot back toward the net where it was redirected in by the man who started the entire play, Cam Hebig. The goal was Hebig’s first in a WHL regular season game since the 19th of March, 2016.
Taking a 4-3 lead into the 3rd period wasn’t to be for the Blades, who gave up a goal on a late Hitmen power play opportunity. Calgary struck after Vladislav Yeryomenko and Kryski passed around the zone, creating a Luke Coleman shot from the point which found its way through traffic into the back of the net.
The nerves from both teams were evident in the final frame as the defence tightened up. Then with just four minutes remaining in the game Braylon Shmyr buried his own rebound to put the Blades up 5-4, eventually holding up as the game winner.
The Blades’ power play still wasn’t able to break through going 0/5 on the night with the penalty kill shutting down Calgary in two of three opportunities.
Ryan Kubic made 19 saves for his first win in a Blades uniform. Both Braylon Shmyr (2G-1A) and Libor Hájek (2A) had a multi-point game.
Next up for the Blades are a pair of divisional games next weekend. The Swift Current Broncos return to SaskTel Centre on Friday and then the Blades head south to the Queen City for their first meeting of the season with the Regina Pats.