Saskatoon, SK – The last game before Christmas between two teams currently battling for a wild-card playoff spot and coming off rough losses last night – the matchup between Regina and Saskatoon promised to be a heated send off noting the half way point of the season.
The match begun with each side swapping scoring chances and Nolan Maier, playing against the Pats for the second time this weekend. The young backstop stoned former Blade captain, Wyatt Sloboshan with a save-of-the-year candidate early to keep the scores level.
The Saskatoon Blades opened the scoring on the power play with 8:52 left in the first. His 15th goal of the season, Braylon Shmyr scored on his backhand through traffic after being fed in the slot by Kirby Dach and Cameron Hebig.
24 seconds left in the first period and the Blades scored again. Evan Fiala pinched the puck right on the blueline to keep it onside for Saskatoon and then sent it to Braylon Shmyr who dished off to Chase Wouters. Wouters then went to feed Shmyr the puck in the slot but it was instead redirected by the man marking him. The redirection, unfortunately for the Pats, softly floated goalward and in amongst the action in front of the net. The goal was Wouters his 7th of the season and gave the Blades’ a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
Regina scored their first of the evening as Matt Bradley ripped in a laser on the power play. The goal came at the 4:53 mark of the second period and halved the Blades’ lead at 2-1.
But the Blades took back their two goal lead at 15:42 of the second period. With the man-advantage, Shmyr flew around the offensive zone before finding Dach waiting patiently along the right wing boards. Dach then passed to Josh Patterson who was sitting right on top of the goal crease and out-muscled both the Pats’ defender to turn the contested puck into his 12th of the season.
After spending most of the period suppressing the Pats, the Blades finally gave one up with 5:20 left in regulation. Regina drew within one goal when Jake Leschyshyn scored among a pile of knocked-down bodies around the face of the net.
But it was too little too late as the Pats tried their luck with an empty net 6-on-4 power play. Nolan Maier stood tall to earn his 7th career victory and 2nd star honours with 27 saves. Braylon Shmyr was named the game’s 1st star with a goal and 2 helpers.
Saskatoon also had a good night on special teams going 2/4 on the man advantage and killing off 4/5 Pats power plays.
The Blades head into the holiday break tied for the final wild-card spot in the East with Prince Albert at 33 points, setting the stage for the start of the second half as Saskatoon opens with a home & home series against the Raiders on December 27th at SaskTel Centre.
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