It was a statement win to wrap up a 3-game road trip for the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday night as they won their 7th straight game by a score of 5-2 over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Blades now sit in 2nd place in the overall WHL standings with a 37-13-8-0 record for 82 points. The Blades also have the longest active unbeaten streak in the league at 13 games (11-0-2-0).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Hurricanes struck first on Saturday through veteran forward Taylor Ross (27), who slapped in a rebound at the side of the Blades goal just 1:20 into the contest. The goal awoke the Blades who then ramped things up and began to take control of the game. The shots were tied 6-6 at the 9:30 mark of the first period before Saskatoon started to pour it on.
The line of Tristen Robins, Zach Huber, and Cyle McNabb worked the cycle down low then fed the puck back to the point for Emil Malysjev (3), who snapped a wrist shot through traffic and past Lethbridge goaltender, Carl Tetachuk. Later in the period still pressing, the Blades thought they had scored the go ahead goal through Riley McKay but the celebration was short-lived as there was a penalty on the play negating the score. It was the first penalty of the game, a tripping minor to Ryan Hughes.
16 seconds into the Lethbridge power play, veteran forward Jake Elmer was dinged with a hooking infraction putting the game to 4-on-4. Seconds after that, Kirby Dach sprung Nolan Kneen (6) on a breakaway and Kneen beat Tetachuk on the glove side to make it 2-1 Saskatoon with just 4 seconds left in the opening frame. The Blades held a 17-10 lead on the shot clock at the first break as well.
The second period belonged to the visiting Blades once again as Saskatoon outshot Lethbridge 15-6 in the middle stanza. Gary Haden (27) put the Blades up 3-1 after hustling to a rebound from a centre-ice dump courtesy of Max Gerlach. The high-powered offense of the Hurricanes did manage to answer back, as Jake Elmer (28) redirected a pass through the five-hole of Nolan Maier to keep it a 3-2 hockey game after 40 minutes.
Ryan Hughes kicked off the third and final frame by dancing his way into the Lethbridge zone, toe-dragging the puck between his legs and around a defender to set up Riley McKay (12) on the doorstep, restoring the 2-goal lead for the visitors in blue & gold.
Thue Hurricanes would end up pulling their goalie with over two minutes left on the clock to try and get back into the game, but the Blades showed no signs of panic and Kirby Dach (22) put the icing on the cake with his 22nd goal of the season into the yawning cage.
Nolan Maier turned aside 23 of 25 shots for his 30th win of the season; the third most wins in the Western Hockey League. Neither team managed a goal on the power play; the Blades were 0/4 while the Canes went 0/2.
The Blades are now 8-0-1-0 in the month of February and have a chance to clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win on Friday when they visit the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Gary Haden: 1 goal, +2, 4 SOG, 1st star
Ryan Hughes: 1 assist, +1, 5 SOG
Kirby Dach: 1 goal, 1 assist, +3, 4 SOG
Max Gerlach had an assist and a team leading 7 shots on goal. He extends his point streak to 14 games (12G-12A).
Ryan Hughes assist gave him points on all 3 games on the road trip (3G-2A).
Emil Malysjev (1G-1A) registered his 3rd career multi-point game.
The Saskatoon Blades are 11-0-2-0 in their last 13 and haven’t lost in regulation since January 12th.
Riley McKay had 1 goal, 3 shots, was +1, and drew a couple of penalties in the game.
The Blades will enjoy a few days of rest before travelling to Brandon on Friday to take on the Wheat Kings. Next home game for the Blades is Saturday, February 23rd, versus the Kootenay ICE at 7:00pm at SaskTel Centre.