Friday, 18 January 2019

Blades’ Davidson still enjoys wins over Pats

Rearguard also holds much respect for former team

Dawson Davidson had three assists for the Blades on Friday night.
    Dawson Davidson doesn’t hold any grudges, but he still enjoys beating his former team.
   On Friday before 3,699 spectators at the SaskTel Centre, the overage defenceman picked up assists on the Saskatoon Blades first three goals as they dumped the Regina Pats 6-2. Davidson was a member of the Pats, when they advanced to the WHL championship series in 2017 falling to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
    He was traded by the Pats to the Blades on January 8, 2018 in a blockbuster deal to help the Regina side to load as hosts for last May’s Memorial Cup.
    Davidson said he still has some motivation to show the Pats what they might be missing, but he still respects Regina’s historic major junior franchise.
The Blades celebrate a goal from Kirby Dach (#77)
    “Whenever you play a team that traded you, you have a little bit of extra jump,” said Davidson, who was a plus-one in the plus-minus department in Friday’s win. “I know a couple of guys on that team still.
    “Both their coaches coached me. I had a great time in that organization. There is no love loss, but at the same time, I’m trying to prove my worth.”
    Davidson has appeared in all of the Blades 46 games this season recording eight goals, 38 assists and a plus-12 rating in the plus-minus department. The Moosomin, Sask., product said he had some breaks go his way offensively on Friday noting two of his helpers were secondary assists.
    “I don’t think I was really doing anything different,” said Davidson, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 179 pounds. “I just got a puck to the net one time.
Ryan Hughes scored the Blades second goal on Friday.
    “The other two, Kirby (Dach) and Emil (Malysjev) made some really nice passes. Some nights you get bounces. That is kind of what happened.”
    Blades head coach Mitch Love appreciates the points Davidson is able to put up, but the bench boss has really loved the effort the veteran rearguard has put towards being a better all-around player.
    “The points are there,” said Love. “The one thing he (Davidson) always wants to get better at is the defensive side of the game.
    “He has been very coachable in that regard. If he wants to give himself a good chance to play pro hockey next year as a 21-year-old, he is going to have to learn to play away from the puck. He realizes that, and he understands that and he is continuously getting better at that.”
Pats G Dean McNabb stops Blades LW Gary Haden.
    The Blades jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes scoring goals 20 seconds apart from each other as the midway point of the frame neared. Overage right-winger Max Gerlach netted his 27th goal of the season, and speedy left-winger Ryan Hughes snipped home a low shot on a breakaway.
    Saskatoon extended its edge to 3-0 at the 4:29 mark of the second, when Dach, who is the team’s star centre, converted a backdoor feed from Malysjev, who is an import defenceman, into an open Regina cage.
Kirby Dach had a goal and an assist for the Blades.
    “Obviously, it was pretty nice,” said Dach, who hit the ice for the first time as a Blades assistant captain on Friday night and had a helper on his team’s second goal. “A guy on their team lost a stick and a glove there.
    “It was a little bit of an advantage for us in the offensive zone. Maly (Malysjev) made a great pass through the seam there to find me backdoor, and I was able to tap it in.”
    Regina battled back near the end of the second cutting the Blades lead to 3-2. Left-winger Cole Dubinsky netted Regina’s first goal, while right-winger Austin Pratt roofed a bad angled shot for the Pats second goal.
    The Blades ensured a Regina rally was not to be.
    Just 76 seconds into the third, energetic right-winger Riley McKay tipped home a point shot from defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus for a power-play goal to give the Blades a 4-2 edge.
    At the 7:41 mark of the third, the Blades struck again on the power play as captain Chase Wouters blasted home his ninth goal of the season to put the hosts up 5-2.
Chase Wouters celebrates scoring for the Blades.
    “When they scored their two goals to make it 3-2, sometimes team tighten up,” said Love. “Maybe the intermission came at the right time.
    “I really liked our shift after goals tonight whether it was them or us. We responded there, and we stayed the course. We did a good job in the third period to kind of stay the course and find more goals than them.”
    With 51.9 seconds to play in the third, 18-year-old left-winger Cyle McNabb scored his first goal as a member of the Blades since being acquired in a trade on Jan. 7 with the Kootenay Ice.
Blades RW Riley McKay fights Pats D Tyson Feist.
    While McNabb was scoring his goal, McKay was mixing things up with Pats defenceman Tyson Feist, and the two broke into a fight. The two sides threw punches for at least a good 30 seconds before the officials stepped in to break things up.
    Nolan Maier made 15 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Blades (27-13-6). Dean McNabb turned away 28 shots to take the setback in goal for the Pats (12-31-2-1)
    The Blades and Pats go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre in Regina.
    While the Pats are going through a major rebuild, Davidson expects Saturday’s encounter will be hotly contested between the two sides.
    “Their fans are always there,” said Davidson. “They support them.
The Blades salute the SaskTel Centre crowd after their win on Friday.
    “They will probably be behind them. They are just a well-coached team. When you have (Dave) Struch as your head coach, you’re going to be a hard-working team.
    “They pushed back. Tonight was a pretty gritty rough game at some points. That fight was pretty unbelievable at the end, and I think that is just a sign of how competitive tomorrow is going to be.”

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