|Saskatoon Blades (10-12-2-1) at Spokane Chiefs (13-9-1-2)
Tonight – Blades captain Evan Fiala returns to his former barn looking to lead his current squad to their 3rd consecutive victory. Saskatoon comes in 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games, and without a regulation loss in their last four (2-0-1-1). A win for the Blades tonight and loss by the Prince Albert Raiders who in Cranbrook taking on the Kootenay ICE, would see the Blades leapfrog the Raiders in the standings for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Captain – Current Saskatoon Blades captain, Evan Fiala, is set to make his return to the Spokane Arena tonight for the first time since being traded to Saskatoon in December of 2016. Fiala, originally from Clavet, SK, was drafted by the Spokane Chiefs 14th overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. During his time with the Chiefs, Fiala quickly became a fan favourite for his hard-nosed play on the ice, and endearing personality to the community off the ice. He played in 157 regular season career games for Spokane, adding 8 goals, 32 assists, and 264 penalty minutes.
The opponent – Currently sitting 3rd in the US Division, the Chiefs are just 1 point behind Tri-City for 2nd place and have gone 5-3-1-1 in their last 10 games. Spokane hasn’t played since Saturday when they put up 7 goals en route to a 7-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. The Chiefs bring a good mix of speed & skills with the likes of Kailer Yamamoto and Jared Anderson-Dolan while offering up some size and grit with Riley McKay and Hudson Elyniuk.
For Saskatoon – The Blades opened the road trip with a perfect road game last night in Tri-City. That’s not to say they played flawless, but getting out to an early lead and keeping the pedal down until the final buzzer was the main factor in coming away with 2 points. Saskatoon will need to dig deep and come with the same effort again tonight and empty the tank before enjoying a couple days off prior to Saturday’s game in Everett. It’s a fine line, but the Blades’ defence will need to once again protect the home plate area aggressively without taking too many penalties.
The lineup – Nolan Maier is expected to make his 5th straight start in goal tonight, but there could be some changes for the skaters. Seth Bafaro sat out last night, but could draw back into the lineup on the blue line. Up front Tyler Lees was the odd man out, but he may dress tonight which will result in one of last night’s players being scratched.
Logan Christensen has been practicing in full contact and will likely take a few more days before returning… Saturday in Everett might be a safe bet for #41.
F Logan Christensen – upper body, day-to-day
G Ryan Kubic – lower body, 2-3 weeks
Download & view the full game notes: game notes at SPO Nov29