Blades Can’t Close Out Calgary

PHOTO COURTESY: Steve Hiscock

The Hitmen threw 52 shots on goal on Wednesday night, earning a come from behind victory over the Saskatoon Blades. Adam Tambellini was the first star in the game, earning a goal and three assists in his WHL debut for Calgary, who continue to be the top team in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

The Saskatoon Blades got off to a hot start to begin the game on Wednesday night as Nikita Scherbak busted down the left wing and went shelf on Hitmen goalie Mack Shields to make it 1-0 only 29 seconds into the game. The goal was the 23rd of the year for Scherbak and came unassisted. The Blades nearly made it 2-0 nearly 3 minutes into the period when a Ryan Graham wraparound was denied by the pad of Shields. Shots were 10-1 at one point to start the period, but a Hitmen 5 on 3 eventually started to turn the period back into even standing. The 5 on 3 paid off as an Alex Roach point shot left a rebound at the feet of Brady Brassart, who spun and slid it past Troy Trombley at 11:57 to make it 1-1. But, on the remainder of the PP it was the Blades who made a chance count. Ryan Graham picked up a puck in his own zone and outskated a pair of chasing Hitmen, walking in all lone and beating Shields shorthanded for his 5th of the year to make it 2-1. After that the goalies made some key stops, including Trombley on Adam Tambellini and Shields on Brett Stovin and a Cory Millette rebound. Shots were 16-13 Saskatoon in the period as they went to the break up 2-1.

After a high-paced first period things started off a little slower in the second period. The Hitmen did generate some decent chances, including Greg Chase getting stopped on a rebound early. They almost made it a 2-2 game at 7:28 when Pavel Padakin just failed to lift one over the pad of Trombley. The Blades then nearly extended their lead to 3-1 when Cameron Hebig walked to the middle of the ice and just slid a shot wide of the net of Shields. After that chance, Hebig made a great move to finally extend Saskatoon’s lead. He walked into the zone, made a nice stickhandling move around a sliding defender and fed the puck across the crease to Stovin, who jammed the puck home at 16:13 for his 10th of the season. The 3-1 lead for the Blades didn’t last long. Only 36 seconds later Zane Jones cashed in a rebound, as he found the puck at his feet from a Tambellini shot. His 11th made it 3-2. Then in the final minute, the Hitmen closed out a big finish to the frame when Tambellini’s hard shot from the offwing beat Trombley to make it 3-3 at 19:02. Shots were 16-7 in the period for Calgary for a two-period total of 29-23.

The third period was a wild one between the Blades and Hitmen. Saskatoon jumped back out in front and took the lead only 1:15 into the frame when Nikita Scherbak scored his second of the night, beating Shields on a wraparound for his 24th of the season. But, the Hitmen were quick to answer back. Jake Virtanen banged home a rebound at 4:41 to tie the game back up at 4, knocking a Zane Jones rebound out of midair. Then Virtanen tied the game on a shot from the slot only 17 seconds later, putting Calgary out in front 5-4. Late in the period the Blades put on their push to get the game back tied. A long wrist shot from Scherbak was stopped with 3:55 to play after a give and go with Dylan Busenius. Then Connor Sanvido was stopped by the blocker of Shields with 3:10 to play, using speed to break in on the rush offensively. The Hitmen then iced the game in the final minute when Padakin hit the empty net to make it 6-4. The Hitmen went 1 for 7 on the PP in the game, while outshooting Saskatoon 52-37. Troy Trombley was good in net for Saskatoon, stopping 47 shots in the loss.

The Blades next game goes on Friday night when they travel to meet the Swift Current Broncos. The Blades are then back on home ice the next night to meet the Regina Pats.

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