Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Blades’ Dach will be Hebig’s wingman any time

Kirby Dach (#77) and Cameron Hebig (#9) skate to the bench after a goal.
    Kirby Dach will never say no to the chance to be Cameron Hebig’s wingman.
    On Tuesday, the 16-year-old Dach, who has played extensively at centre for the Saskatoon Blades, was moved to play right wing on a line centred by star overager Cameron Hebig with Brad Goethals filling in at left wing. That moved paid off in spades as that trio combined for four goals and five assists to power the Blades past the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-3 in a WHL regular season clash before 2,628 spectators at the SaskTel Centre.
    “It helps my game a lot,” said Dach, who had a goal and three assists in the win. “It helps me open up the ice, because they know if they give me the puck I am going to give them the puck right back.
Kirby Dach settles the puck down in the offensive zone.
    “That is something that I think I needed for a confidence boost was to play with those guys to start producing points.”
    Hebig had two goals and two assists on Tuesday, while Goethals had a single.
    Dach had some obvious chemistry with Hebig, and that was best shown on the club’s final goal of the night. With the Blades holding a 4-3 lead, Hebig gave the puck to Dach, and Dach dished to back to Hebig, who potted a huge goal to seal the final outcome with 4:35 to play in the third period.
    Blades head coach Dean Brockman put Hebig and Dach on a line together for the third period of Sunday’s 3-2 home ice victory over the Prince Albert Raiders to seal out that game. The bench boss kept those two together on Tuesday hoping the Blades would get an offensive spark, which they did receive.
Cameron Hebig speeds into the offensive zone for the Blades.
    “They know where to put the puck,” said Brockman. “Obviously, they are talented and very skilled. It makes it a very lethal combination.”
    The Blades jumped out to a quick start building a 3-0 lead by the 9:29 mark of the first period. Goethals scored Saskatoon’s first goal popping home a rebound from a wraparound attempt by Hebig.
    Hebig accounted for the Blades second goal and his first of the night, when he converted a setup pass in the slot from Dach during a power-play chance. The surge concluded when 18-year-old right-winger Josh Paterson netted his 10th goal of the season.
    “I think we had some jump,” said Brockman, whose team is playing their third game over a nine day period. “Obviously, we had our legs.
Hurricanes goalie Stuart Skinner watches Kirby Dach score for the Blades.
    “We stressed a quick start, because we knew we were going to fade. Just with all the games that we’ve had, we needed to jump all over them.”
    Standout 16-year-old rookie centre Dylan Cozens got the Hurricanes on the board scoring at the 2:52 mark of the second period to cut Saskatoon’s lead to 3-1.
    At the 9:35 mark of the second, the Blades jumped in front 4-1 on a spectacular power-play goal from Dach. Dach got in alone in close against Hurricanes star netminder Stuart Skinner, put a toe drag move on the puck stopper and tucked the puck into an empty cage.
    The tally was Dach’s fourth goal of the campaign, and Brockman said the Blades coaches have been encouraging the young rookie to not always look for the pass in the offensive zone.
Dylan Cozens had a goal for the Hurricanes.
    “We’ve been trying to get him to shoot a little more all the time,” said Brockman. “He has to put himself in good spots as well.
    “He is starting to figure that out. He is starting to figure out where teams are going to be consistently. He is finding the holes and good for him.”
    The Hurricanes didn’t go away. Before the second period ended, Hurricanes 17-year-old sophomore defenceman Calen Addison wired home a midrange shot to cut the Blades lead to 4-2.
    At the 3:57 mark of the third, Hurricanes left-winger Jake Elmer knocked home a loose puck in the crease of the Saskatoon goal to further cut the host side’s edge to 4-3. That was as close as the visitors got to evening things up.
    Shortly after Hebig put the hosts up 5-3, Blades Russian import defenceman Mark Rubinchik and Hurricanes left-winger Jordy Bellerive engaged in a short but spirited fight. 
    Nolan Maier, Saskatoon’s hot 16-year-old goalie, turned away 28 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Blades (13-16-2-1). Skinner turned away 36 shots to take the setback in goal for the Hurricanes (14-14-2).
    Blades import defenceman Libor Hajek, who departs Wednesday morning to join the training camp for the Czech Republic’s world junior team, has been impressed by Dach and Maier.
    “Kirby (Dach) scored a nice goal and had a nice pass,” said Hajek, who had an assist and was a plus-two in the plus-minus department in Tuesday’s win. “He helped us lot. Nolan (Maier) in the net was amazing again.
Cameron Hebig (#9) of the Blades is denied a personal third goal of the night.
    “That is future for Blades for sure. They are amazing players. It is nice to watch them.”
    Dach said his game is helped by the fact he has a veteran like Hebig to emulate.
    “He (Hebig) is a great player and a tremendous person off the ice,” said Dach. “He has helped me so much this year just grow and learn about the league and how to hold myself on the ice and how to act off the ice as well in front of the media.
    “He is a great mentor for me to learn from.”
    The Blades return to action on Friday, when they travel to Regina to face the Memorial Cup hosting Pats at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre.

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