Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Blades’ Dach melts Ice with three-point night

Kirby Dach had a goal and two assists for the Blades on Wednesday night.
    For a short time, it appeared Kirby Dach was going spoil his own big night.
    On Wednesday in Cranbrook, B.C., Dach’s Saskatoon Blades held a 2-1 third period lead over the host Kootenay Ice. With his team working on the power play, the rookie centre accidentally turned the puck over to Ice winger Cameron Hausinger.
    Hausinger sprung linemate Brett Davis on a breakaway, and he capitalized with his 21st goal of the campaign to tie things up at 2-2 with 6:27 to play in the frame.
    Dach ensured Davis’s short-handed goal wouldn’t be a turning point in the contest. With 2:48 to play in the third, Dach entered the Kootenay zone on a two-on-one break.
    He fed a setup pass over to right-winger Michael Farren, who popped home the deciding tally in the Blades 3-2 victory before 2,022 spectators at Western Financial Place.
    Dach returned to the Saskatoon lineup having missed one game after being banged up from receiving a hit from behind by Prince Albert Raiders winger Parker Kelly during a Blades 6-3 victory at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday.
    Against the Ice on Wednesday, the Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., product had one of his better nights outside of the third period turnover playing a part in manufacturing all three of the Blades goals.
    At the 9:25 mark of the first, Dach, who turned 17 in January, wired home a shot to the top right corner of the Kootenay goal to give the Blades a 1-0 lead.
    The Blades increased their edge to 2-0 on the Ice at the 4:16 mark of the second, when defenceman Dawson Davidson beat Kootenay netminder Matt Berlin with a low shot on the power play. Dach picked up an assist on that tally.
Michael Farren scored the winning goal for the Blades on Wednesday night.
    Before the second ended, the Ice cut the Blades edge to 2-1, when overage right-winger Colton Veloso one-timed home his 20th goal of the season with Kootenay working on the power play. Veloso hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his WHL career having spent the past two full seasons with the Portland Winterhawks.
    That set the stage for the dramatics inside of the final seven minutes of the third period.
    Rookie Nolan Maier, who turned 17 in January, turned away 25 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Blades. Berlin stopped 24 shots to take the setback in goal for the Ice, who fell to 24-31-3.
Before Wednesday’s game, the Blades had lost their five previous road games, with their last road win being a 3-2 overtime victory over the Rebels in Red Deer on Jan. 13. Saskatoon now has a 12-14-2-1 record on the road this season.
    Overall, the Blades have won three straight to improve to 29-26-2-1 to hold a six-point edge over the Prince Albert Raiders (22-23-9-2) for the second wildcard spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. The Raiders have two games in hand on the Blades.
    Saskatoon trails the Memorial Cup hosting Regina Pats (29-24-5-1) by three points for the Eastern Conference’s first wildcard spot and the Brandon Wheat Kings (30-21-3-2) by four points for third in the East Division. The Blades have a game in hand on the Pats. The Wheat Kings have two games in hand on the Blades.
    The Blades return to action on Friday, when they travel to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes (26-24-6).

Back in the Express with Vance

Jessica Vance had a spectacular regular season for the Huskies.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a feature story on netminder Jessica Vance of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team.
    The 20-year-old Prince Albert, Sask., product had an outstanding season playing goal for the Huskies. Vance had nine shutouts during the regular season which ties former University of Pandas netminder Stacey McCullough for the second most shutouts ever recorded in the Canada West Conference in one U Sports regular season. McCullough posted nine shutouts in the 2000-01 campaign.
    Lindsey Post, who is another former Pandas netminder, holds the Canada West record for most shutouts in one U Sports regular season at 10 recorded in the 2014-15 campaign.
    In 2017-18, 54 of the 112 regular season games played in the Canada West Conference for women’s hockey ended in shutouts, and the Huskies posted 12 total shutouts as a team in the campaign to equal a Canada West Conference team record for one season. The Pandas also posted 12 shutouts coming in the 2008-09 campaign.
    Besides leading the Canada West Conference in shutouts, Vance posted a 14-3-1 record, a 0.77 goals against average and a .964 save percentage. Vance topped the Canada West Conference with the most wins and the best save percentage.
    Thanks to Vance, the Huskies finished second in Canada West with a 19-7-2 record. The win total was a regular season team record for the Huskies. Before the current campaign, U of S last finished second in Canada West in the 2013-14 campaign posting an 18-4-6 mark.
    The Huskies will host a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series from Feb. 23 to 25 at the ancient Rutherford Rink. Games 1 and 2 are set for a 1:30 p.m. start on Feb. 23 and 24 respectively.
    The story on Vance can be found right here.

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