|Prince Albert Raiders (14-11-2-1) at Saskatoon Blades (15-17-2-1)
Tonight – The Saskatoon Blades return for the 2nd half of the season and kick things off with a home & home series against their rivals from Prince Albert. It’s game #3 of the 8-game season series; the Blades lead 1-0-1-0. It’s a crucial series for the two rivals as they both sit at 33 points on the season and tied for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The opponent – Similar to the Blades, the Raiders only lost one player to the World Junior tournament… ironically enough also a Czech import d-man (Vojtech Budik). PA comes in with just 3 wins in their last 10, but have proven to be a team that doesn’t quit scraping up 7 points from extra time losses this season.
For Saskatoon – The Blades finished the first half strong winning 4/5 games heading into the break, and they’ll need to rekindle that flame sooner than later. Nolan Maier has won his last 4 starts in goal… one of them against PA so look for the youngster to get another shot. Home ice will also be key for line matching as the Blades will need to get Cam Hebig & Co. on the ice against a younger defence pairing as the Raiders have 2 AP’s on their backend.
The Lineup – With Libor Hájek away at World Jr’s, the Blades d-core will need to step up and replace those minutes as a unit. Saskatoon also called up 16-year-old prospect Majid Kaddoura who earned a contract as a list player out of camp, so he could get his first taste of WHL action this week. Gage Ramsay returns after missing the last 8 games with a lower body injury, as does Michael Farren who sat out the final two games before the break, also due to injury.
F Caleb Fantillo – lower body, 3-5 weeks
F Dryden Michaud – upper body, day-to-day
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