Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Blades supporting cast needs to help Hebig and Shmyr

Cameron Hebig (#9) fires a shot on goal for the Blades.
    It is starting to feel like the Saskatoon Blades are a two-person team relying on star overage forwards Cameron Hebig and Braylon Shmyr.
    During the early going of the 2017-18 WHL regular season, Hebig and Shmyr have piled up the points, but it feels like their efforts have been wasted a few too many times.
    On Wednesday night at the SaskTel Centre, the Blades dropped to 3-6, when they were double up 6-3 by the visiting Vancouver Giants. Hebig scored twice for the Blades, and Shmyr picked up an assist on Saskatoon’s other tally.
    Hebig has seven goals and six assists in seven appearances for Saskatoon, while Shmyr has seven goals and seven assists dressing for all nine games the Blades have played in the current campaign.
Braylon Shmyr wheels into the offensive zone for the Blades.
    Despite the efforts of that dynamic duo on Wednesday, the Blades didn’t get enough production from their supporting cast, and the combination of their defence and goaltending wasn’t strong enough to give them a chance to win.
    A sparse crowd of 2,578 watched the visiting Giants improve to 4-4-1-1 by receiving contributions from a number of sources. Shifty 18-year-old centre James Malm, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 170 pounds, led the way for the Giants recording a goal and two assists. At the moment, the Langley, B.C., product is Vancouver’s leading scorer with two goals and nine assists.
    Brendan Semchuk, who is an 18-year-old Kamloops, B.C., product, potted a pair of goals playing right wing on Malm’s line. The Giants scoring was rounded out with singles coming from Milos Roman, Tyler Popowich and Owen Hardy.
James Malm had a goal and two assists for the Giants.
    The Blades stumbled out of the gate with a costly error, when Russian import defenceman Mark Rubinchik gave the puck away to Roman in front of the Saskatoon net.
    Roman quickly blasted the gift past Blades netminder Ryan Kubic to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
    Saskatoon did show fight. Late in the first, Hebig wired home a shot from the slot on a power play to tie things up at 1-1.
    Just 21 seconds into the second period, the Blades went ahead 2-1, when Czech import defenceman Libor Hajek pinched low to the right side of the Giants net to pot his third of the season.
    The lead lasted just 14 seconds as Semchuk tied things up at 2-2 with his first of the contest.
    Popowich scored late in the second and Malm and Semchuk, with his second tally of the game, opened the scoring in the third to give the Giants a 5-2 lead.
    At the 12:14 mark of the third, Hebig netted his second of the contest to cut the gap to 5-3. The Blades applied pressure after that tally, but 17-year-old rookie netminder Todd Scott withstood the surge.
Brendan Semchuk scored twice for the Giants.
    With 3:41 to play in the third, the Blades pulled Kubic for an extra attacker, but Hardy scored into an empty net for the Giants to round out the scoring in the contest.
    Kubic turned away 26-of-31 shots to take the loss in goal for the Blades.
    Scott made 32 stops in goal for the Giants to pick up his first career WHL victory to build some personal momentum as his team travels to Brandon on Friday to face the Wheat Kings.
    So far this season, the Blades have scored a total of 29 goals and Hebig and Shmyr have score a combined 14 of those tallies.
    The Blades two regular goalies also don’t have the most flattering of numbers.
Some rough stuff goes down in front of the Vancouver net.
    Kubic has a 3-4 record, a 4.19 goals against average and a .862 save percentage.
    Back up Joel Grzybowski has an 0-1 record, a 4.68 goals against average and a .825 save percentage in 90 minutes of work.
    Those inflated numbers haven’t been all the fault of the two netminders.
    With that said, the play of the Blades defencemen and their netminders have to be better in their own zone.
    The Blades, who have missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons, don’t have to wait long to try and get a better effort.
    They travel to Prince Albert on Saturday to face the Raiders (3-4-3) at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

Blue and gold remember Downie

Gord Downie remembered on the SaskTel Centre big scoreboard screen.
    With the passing for Gord Downie late Tuesday night, the Blades ensured the legendary frontman of The Tragically Hip was remembered during their contest on Wednesday.
    During warmups, the Blades played only songs from the iconic Canadian rock band. Following warmups, the Blades played a video of Downie and the Hip playing a song on the big screen on the scoreboard at the SaskTel Centre.
    When the song concluded, the scoreboard showed a picture of Downie on it with a written inscription, “Gordon Downie 1964-2017.”
    The Blades also played a number of songs from The Tragically Hip during stoppages in play.
Downie passed away at age 53 after a battle with brain cancer.

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