Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Blades wipe out Warriors 6-1

The Blades celebrate a power-play goal from Brandon Schuldhaus.
    It seems Jack Frost might have been a tougher adversary for the Saskatoon Blades than the Moose Jaw Warriors were over the last 24 hours.
    In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Blades returned to the SaskTel Centre after thumping the Wheat Kings in Brandon 7-3 on Tuesday night. Fighting temperatures that were well below -30 C, the Blades players, coaches and staff members got their vehicles going to head home to rest up for what was expected to be an intense tilt about 13 hours later with Moose Jaw.
    The Blades didn’t show any signs of fatigue when they returned Wednesday night to the SaskTel Centre for that night’s WHL regular season clash.
Kirby Dach had two assists for the Blades on Wednesday night.
    Before 3,281 spectators, they dismantled the visiting Warriors 6-1 holding an impressive 48-20 edge in shots on goal.
    With the win, the Blades improved to 32-13-8 to remain fourth overall in the WHL standings, while the Warriors fell to 28-13-6-2 to remain seventh overall on the circuit.
    “It was a big win for our hockey club, especially after last night’s travel arrangements coming home,” said Blades head coach Mitch Love. “Guys didn’t get back to their billets until about 5:30 in the morning, especially when a few cars didn’t start.
    “It was a little bit of adversity there, but it was a great effort up and down our lineup from everybody. We knew the importance of the game and found a way.”
Dawson Davidson had a goal and two assists for the Blades.
    The Blades stormed the Warriors in the opening 20 minutes outshooting the visitors 21-5. The host side took a 1-0 lead at the 9:46 mark of the opening frame, when 16-year-old rookie left-winger Kyle Crnkovic fired home a goal from the right side of the Moose Jaw net converting a backdoor feed from offensive defenceman Dawson Davidson.
    With 11.1 seconds to play in the first period, Blades captain Chase Wouters banged home a gritty goal on the power play from the front of the Moose Jaw goal to put Saskatoon up 2-0.
    “The Bridge City Bunch” kept the foot on the gas pedal at the start of the second. Just 54 seconds into the frame, speedy right-winger Ryan Hughes slipped a backhander past Warriors netminder Adam Evanoff to give the Blades a 3-0 advantage with his 20th goal of the campaign.
Ryan Hughes picked up his 20th goal of the season on Wednesday night.
    “Anytime you can end the period with a goal and start a period with a goal, it is huge,” said Hughes. “Knowing from experience that happening against, it takes the wind right out of you.
    “That was good there in the first and the second.”
    The Warriors tried to stop the bleeding at the 12:53 of the second, when star left-winger Justin Almeida potted a power-play goal for his 21st tally of the season.
    Any thoughts of a comeback were dashed with 1:49 remaining in the second, when Davidson scored a power-play goal off an offensive zone rush to put the Blades up 4-1. Davidson converted a beauty drop pass from high energy left-winger Riley McKay to give the host side a three-goal edge.
Blades captain Chase Wouters fights for a loose puck.
    Davidson finished the night posting a goal, two assists and a plus-one rating in the plus-minus department. The Moosomin, Sask., product has recorded points in his last 11 straight games piling two goals and 15 assists over that span of time.
    “It has been a good little run here,” said Davidson. “I’ve just been playing my game.
    “I haven’t been worried about it. I think that is something that can to players when they get on these streaks. I know I’ve gotten on a couple in the past, and I started kind of thinking about it a little bit.
    “It has gotten in my head where I feel like right now I’m just kind of playing my game and letting things come.”
    Overage right-winger Max Gerlach wired home a power-play goal for his 32nd marker of the campaign and overage rearguard Brandon Schuldhaus hammered home a power-play goal of his own to round out the Blades scoring in the third.
Warriors D Jett Woo and Blades RW Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen scrum it up.
    Nolan Maier turned away 19 shots in goal for the Blades. Adam Evanoff stopped 42 shots in goal for the Warriors.
    Crnkovic had helpers on the final two Saskatoon goals to finish the contest with a three-point night. Veteran defenceman Nolan Kneen had a pair of assists for the Blades.
    Wednesday’s encounter included some rough stuff as the final result was well in hand. With 3:20 remaining in the third and the Blades holding a 5-1 lead, Warriors defenceman Jett Woo took a run at Blades star sophomore centre Kirby Dach well before an intended pass got to where Dach was on the ice.
    Woo nailed Dach starting a scrum. The Warriors rearguard received a major penalty for charging on the play which will automatically trigger a review by the WHL office for a possible suspension.
Nolan Kneen had a pair of assists for the Blades.
    Dach, who picked up two assists on Wednesday, finished the game and didn’t look any worse for wear during a postgame media scrum. He thought everyone on his team played well and was pleased to see 11 different players on the Blades pick up points.
    “There are going to be games where your top offensive players aren’t going to be able to produce every night,” said Dach. “You need that secondary scoring, and that is going to help you out in the long run.”
    Dach was proud of how his team played on a short turnaround after returning early Wednesday morning from Brandon.
Ryan Hughes gives a stick to a young fan at the end of Wednesday’s game.
    “Obviously, it was pretty good to get that good start,” said Dach. “We got home late from Brandon 5:30 to 6 in the morning.
    “We got our rest. We got a good meal in us at around noon. We had our naps, and we came to the rink ready to play.
    “I think we put the league on notice that we are there to stay, and we’re a good team.”
    The Blades return to action on Saturday when they travel to Swift Current to take on the Broncos at 5 p.m. at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex.
    The Warriors hit the ice again on Friday when they travel to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes at 7 p.m. local time at the Enmax Centre.

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