GAME DAY PREVIEW: Blades Set To Shutdown American’s Artillery
Tonight… The Saskatoon Blades (15-21-5-1 – 36pts) open up long awaited home stand at SaskTel Centre playing host to the Tri-City Americans (23-17-3-0 – 49pts). The Blades are 42 games into the season, and so far have only played 16 on home ice. Tonight is the first of 6 straight games at home, with 12 of the next 13 also at SaskTel Centre. The Blades are coming off a 4-0 loss last night in Moose Jaw where the offense seemingly dried up after early success in the 2nd half of the season. The Americans are on the other end of the spectrum coming off a commanding 7-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders last night. This is just stop number 3 for Tri-City on a 7 game road swing through the prairies, so they should have plenty of energy and health as it’s still early in the trip and the Raiders obviously didn’t wear them down too much on Friday. Saskatoon has shown a tendency to rebound after losses by a large margin this season, so fans at SaskTel Centre should expect a strong, energized start from the Blades tonight. Tight checking and sound defense will be crucial to shut down the American’s high-powered offense which boasts two forwards already over the 20 goal mark, including 17 year old centre, Michael Rasmussen who already has 29 goals this season.
Flo Knows… Logan Flodell has only made two starts in 6 games since returning from the holiday break due to the recent play of Brock Hamm. Flodell carried the bulk of the load in the first half of the season, even earning the CHL Goaltender of the Week in October. Flodell was acquired prior to the start of the season from Seattle, so he’s all too familiar with the makeup of the Tri-City Americans. Expect Flodell to get the nod tonight as the Blades look to shut down the the Americans’ artillery.
Fear The Shmyr… Despite a blip on the radar last night, Braylon Shmyr has been engine driving the bus for Saskatoon’s offense, collecting 17 pts (10G – 7A) in his last 13 games. Since returning from the Holiday break, Shmyr has 7 goals in 6 games, including three 2-goal performances. Shmyr leads Saskatoon with 33 pts in 41GP (21G – 12A) this season. The 97 born forward is also one of four Blades to have played in all 42 games this season. Shmyr was recently given a ‘A’ on his sweater for his leadership qualities.
Hájek Returns… The Blades d-core received a boost last Friday in Swift Current as 98 D Libor Hájek returned to the lineup after being released by Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships. Disappointed about his release, the 2nd round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning is ready to make a statement in the 2nd half of his sophomore season. Hájek added an assist Sunday afternoon against Swift Current and scored twice on Tuesday in Brandon in the 3rd period, including the game winner. Hájek now has 15 points in 35 games this season for the Blades. (3G – 12A)
Recent Movement… The Blades made two roster moves on Thursday. First off, Saskatoon acquired 98 F Cole Johnson (34GP – 4G – 10A – 18PIM) from Swift Current in exchange for a 2017 7th (REG) and a 2018 5th (RD). Both draft picks were previously acquired from Red Deer in exchange for Cameron Hausinger. Later on Thursday, the Blades sent 97 D Jordan Henderson to the Medicine Hat Tigers for a 2017 5th round draft pick. Henderson was previously acquired in November from Spokane for a 2017 6th round draft pick. Henderson played 20 games with the Blades and registered 1 goal and 3 assists.
Injury report… The Saskatoon Blades are currently without 3 key offensive pieces in the lineup. Cam Hebig has yet to dress for a game this season and remains on a week-to-week status with an upper body injury. Hebig had 69 pts in 59 GP last season for Saskatoon. Mason McCarty put on his skates last week, but is still weeks away from joining the team in practice after suffering a lower body injury in late November. McCarty has 23 pts in 26 games this season, and is expected to return to action in early February. Markson Bechtold was acquired in a blockbuster trade before Christmas, and suffered an upper body injury in the first game of the second half. Bechtold is listed as week-to-week.
Download and view the full game notes: Game Notes vs TC Jan7:17