REGINA, SK — Nolan Maier earned his place atop the franchise victory thrown.
The veteran goaltender collected his record-setting 86th victory with a heroic 29-save performance, helping the Saskatoon Blades stave off a late charge by the Winnipeg ICE to win 3-2 at the Brandt Centre on Wednesday.
Yorkton, SK’s Maier has officially passed Tim Cheveldae in the Blades history books, who set the previous record of 85 wins in 1988. Along with inking his name into Blades lore, Maier received the game’s first star, and improves his undefeated record to an impressive 7-0-0-0.
Saskatoon collected goals from rookie Brandon Lisowsky, leading scorer Kyle Crnkovic, and draft-eligible forward Colton Dach, who extended his scoring streak to three games.
The Blades have now put together 10-consecutive games without a regulation loss to go along with a seven-game win-streak, and improve to an East-best 9-0-1-0 record.
Not only do the Blades hold a four-point lead in the East Division, they’ve also regained first place in the Eastern Conference, one point up on the Edmonton Oil Kings. Saskatoon is the only team yet to fall in regulation of any Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba squad.
Maier’s historic victory comes two days after shutting out the Prince Albert Raiders with a 24-save performance. Over the last two games, the 2001-born ‘tender has stopped a combined 53 of 55 shots, equalling a save percentage of 96.4%.
Saskatoon lacked the efforts of captain Chase Wouters and defenceman Rhett Rhinehart, who are serving three and two-game suspensions respectively.
Freshman winger Lisowsky, who’s usual centreman is Wouters, notched the Blades first goal late in the opening frame, squaring the game at one. Lisowsky leads the team in rookie scoring with four goals and eight points — five of which coming in the last five games.
Fellow rookie Sammy May was credited with the secondary helper, his first point in his young junior hockey career.
Kyle Crnkovic gave the Blades their first lead of the game just over three minutes into the second period, breaking through the neutral zone and snapping his fourth of the year under the arm of Gage Alexander. Crnkovic leads the Blades in scoring with 14 points, and was given the game’s third star.
Colton Dach’s recent scoring surge continued by scoring the eventual game-winner, shovelling home a loose rebound on the powerplay late in the second period.
Anderson MacDonald and Connor McClennon collected markers for the ICE, who fall to 6-4-0-0 and remain in third place in the East Division. On the other end of the ice, Winnipeg netminder Alexander was solid in goal with 25 saves.
The Blades will search for an eighth straight victory on Friday, welcoming the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Brandt Centre at 8:00pm.
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