Saturday, 9 March 2019

Hughes at home with Blades

Standout winger scores twice in 6-1 win over Broncos

Ryan Hughes scored twice for the Blades on Saturday night.
    Ryan Hughes is delivering as the big acquisition the Saskatoon Blades were hoping for.
    Back on Jan. 10, the Blades traded centre Josh Paterson, who is in his 19-year-old season, a second round selection in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft and a fourth round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft to the Portland Winterhawks to get Hughes.
    Since arriving in Saskatoon, Hughes hasn’t disappointed playing right wing on a line centred by the ultra-talented Kirby Dach and strengthened with the presences of feisty Riley McKay on left-wing.
    On Saturday, Hughes was at his best again scoring twice as the Blades downed the visiting Swift Current Broncos 6-1 before 4,555 spectators at the SaskTel Centre.
    “It has been good,” said Hughes. “I’ve settled in nicely now.
Riley McKay set up Hughes’ first goal for the Blades on Saturday.
    “The team is playing great hockey, so I can’t complain.”
    Settling nicely might be an understatement. Hughes has 12 goals, 14 assists and is a plus-11 in the plus-minus department in 22 games with the Blades.
    The 19-year-old Edmonton, Alta., product has totalled 29 goals and 37 assists and a plus-16 rating in 58 games played between the Winterhawks and Blades.
    Saskatoon has also been taking off as a team.
    Saturday’s win allowed the Blades to increase their winning streak to six games improving to 43-14-8.
Kirby Dach scored for the Blades on Saturday night.
    Saskatoon is guaranteed to finish in the top four of the overall WHL standings and is locked in to play a first round best-of-seven playoff series with home ice advantage against the Moose Jaw Warriors.
    The Blades have won 13 out of their last 14 games and are 27-5-3 since last Dec. 1.
    Blades head coach Mitch Love said Hughes has been a key contributor to the Blades good fortunes since arriving in Saskatoon.
    “He has been great,” said Love. “He’s done his job.
    “He has come here and provided skill and offence to our group. He is learning to round out his game and play a little bit more of a 200-foot game. He is an exciting athlete to watch.
Blades D Dawson Davidson (#4) battles Broncos RW Tyler Lees for the puck.
    “He is great in our locker room, and that is exactly what we knew we were getting when we acquired him in January.”
    Hughes’ two goals on Saturday proved to be killers in help end the competitive phase of the game in the win over the Broncos.
    With 44.2 seconds remaining in the second, Hughes converted a beauty setup pass from McKay on a two-on-one break to give the Blades a 3-0 lead.
    “That was a great play by Porksy (Riley McKay),” said Hughes. “I didn’t know if he could get it over there, and then he made it.
    “I just kind of hammered it home.”
    Just seven seconds into the third, Hughes zipped down the left wing and snapped home an accurate bad angled shot to the top right corner of the Broncos goal to give Saskatoon a 4-0 advantage. 
Defenceman Reece Harsch mans the point for the Blades.
    Hughes wasn’t certain if that was the fastest goal he had ever scored to start a period.
    “It probably ranks up there,” said Hughes. “I’m not sure.
    “It did happen so fast. We got on to the bench after there, and “Porks” (McKay) and I were kind of chuckling. We were like, ‘I don’t know how that really happened.’
    “I guess it has to rank up there for fastest. I will look to shoot when I have it. I was lucky that one went high glove.”
    Love said Hughes’ early third period goal help provide a good teaching and reinforcement point to his team.
    “It is amazing what happens when you are ready to go off a faceoff, and you shoot a puck,” said Love. “That was exactly what Ryan Hughes did there.
Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen scored for the Blades.
    “We talk about how important faceoffs are. Faceoffs are a time in a hockey game where you have the ability to turn your brain on from an offensive end and a defensive side of things. When those things happens, it means you’re ready to play.
    “The first period we weren’t ready to play. Faceoffs don’t happen, and we took two penalties. The rest of the game our guys figured that out.”
    The Blades came out a bit sluggish at the start of Saturday’s game skating through a scoreless first period with the Broncos holding an 8-3 edge in shots on goal.
    After the opening frame, the Blades broke through on the scoreboard with a power-play goal at the 6:43 mark of the second. During a net scramble, Blades centre Tristen Robins shoveled home the puck to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
    Just 51 seconds later, the Blades increased their edge to 2-0, when import right-winger Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen tipped home a point shot from defenceman Reece Harsch.
Dorrin Luding made 16 saves in goal for the Blades.
    Following Hughes’ two goals, offensive defenceman Dawson Davidson snipped home a mid-range shot at the 6:59 mark of the third to put the Blades up 5-0 with both sides playing four-on-four due to offsetting penalties.
    Matthew Culling netted the Broncos lone reply at the 12:41 mark of the third.
    Dach potted the game’s final tally with 2:20 remaining in the third.
    Dorrin Luding made 16 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Blades. Riley Lamb stopped 41 shots to take the setback in goal for the Broncos.
    The majorly rebuilding Broncos became further cemented in the basement of the WHL falling to 10-48-4-2.
    The Blades return to action on Sunday, when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors (37-19-6-2) at 4 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
The Blades celebrate their victory over the Broncos on Saturday night.
    The Broncos return to Swift Current to host the league leading Prince Albert Raiders (52-9-2-2) at 4 p.m., at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex.
    Hughes expects Sunday’s encounter with the Warriors to be a preview of what to expect in the post-season.
    “It will be an intense game,” said Hughes. “It will be playoff like.
    “That game, I am sure they are going to come out, and they are going to want to beat us and have the upper hand going into playoffs, so we have to have the same mentality.”
    NOTES - Saturdays contest was the Blades’ “WHL Suits Up” with Don Cherry to promote organ donation game. Saskatoon wore Don Cherry inspired suit jerseys, and the jerseys were silent auctioned during the game with the proceeds going to the Saskatoon branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.