Saskatoon, SK – After the first meeting between Saskatoon and Lethbridge this season led to a 2-1 OT victory in Cane country for the Blades, the second matchup featured three goals within the first 10 minutes ultimately ending in a 5-3 victory for Saskatoon. The win is the second straight for the Blades who now have a 13-16-2-1 record on the season.
Bradly Goethals opened the scoring for the Blades at the 4:39 mark of the first period. Kirby Dach carried the puck in along the boards of the left wing before passing it off to Cameron Hebig who was hanging out by the left goal post. Hebig then swivled to face the net with the puck and shot the puck right into Stuart Skinner’s pads. The rebound spilled out on the opposite side of the crease where Goethals was waiting and collected his 8th of the season.
Hebig earned his second point of the night and gave the Blades a 2-0 lead at the 8:38 mark in the first period. On the power play, Libor Hájek and Dach (his second assist of the night) cycled the puck around the zone from the point to Hebig who then let rip a laser from inside the left face-off circle which went in off a Lethbridge defender.
Less than a minute later, Josh Paterson scored his 10th goal of the season, cleaning up the garbage in front of the net off a rebound created by an Alec Zawatsky shot at 9:29. The Blades finished one of their strongest periods of the season with a 3-0 lead, dominating the shot-count 15-6 while killing both Hurricane power plays and going 1/3 on their own extra-man-advantage opportunities.
2:52 into the second period and the Hurricanes found their first of the night. Capitalizing on a poor drop-pass made by the Blades in their offensive zone, Lethbridge quickly transitioned to a 2-on-1 odd man rush where Dylan Cozens scored on the tightest top-left-corner shot.
A rushing play from the Blades’ power play unit saw a beautiful floating pass from Braylon Shmyr set up Dach’s 4th goal of the season and Saskatoon’s 4th of the evening. Sneaking in from the the side boards un-marked, Dach deked in on his forehand before pulling Lethbridge’s goaltender out of position with a curl and drag into a wide open net.
The Hurricanes struck back, scoring another pin-point marker that came off the end of Calen Addison’s stick at the 13:03 mark of the second period. Saskatoon went into the second intermission still holding their lead, though Lethbridge had chipped back and set the score 4-2 Blades.
Lethbridge cut the Blades’ lead to just one goal when Jake Elmer slipped puck through the tiniest gap between Nolan Maier‘s right foot and the right post, setting the score at 4-3 Saskatoon with 16:03 left in regulation and ensuring the night would end with a tight finish.
With 4:35 left in regulation, Dach and Hebig teamed up to put some security on the Blades’ lead in the final moments of the match. A one-two pass right in front of the crease saw Hebig able to score into a wide open net after forcing the Hurricanes’ netminder to commit to covering Dach. The play saw Hebig (2G, 2A) and Dach (1G, 3A) hit the 4 point plateau for the evening. Kirby Dach now has 15 points in 14 games since returning from the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Then later in the 3rd period, Mark Rubinchik stepped up with a booming hit on Lane Zablocki, prompting Jordy Bellerive to challenge the Blades’ d-man to a fight. Rubinchik obliged and the two exchanged several jabs before Rubinchik assisting Bellerive to the ice. Both players left bloodied, with Bellerive getting the extra unsportsmanlike minor for instigating the dance.
Nolan Maier made 28 saves for his 5th career win and improving his season save percentage to .895, while Blades’ special teams were impressive at 2/6 on the power play and a perfect 4/4 on the penalty kill.
Next up for the Blades is a 3 games in 3 nights weekend, beginning in Regina on Friday against the Pats.
Then the Blades will play twice at home before the holiday break; Saturday hosting the Kelowna Rockets and then Sunday afternoon against the Regina Pats again for the Blades’ annual Sing For Santa game.