Blades Come Up Short In Big City Battle:

PHOTO COURTESY STEVE HISCOCK:

The Saskatoon Blades picked up a point for the second consecutive game as they dropped a close, 4-3 battle in a shootout to the Regina Pats on Friday night. Troy Trombley was the big story as the Blades goaltender was the first star of the game after making 43 stops in the shootout defeat.

Early in the first period the Blades almost got on the board. Nikita Scherbak was given room down the left wing and walked right in, firing a high hard shot just over the shoulder and cross-bar past the goal of Pats goalie Nick Schneider. While the Blades failed to score on their first good chance, the Pats didn’t miss the opportunity. Dryden Hunt scored his 10th of the season at 1:25 as he had the puck behind the net, walked to the side and snuck one past Troy Trombley to make it 1-0. But the Blades were quick to respond. At 3:20, Dylan Busenius fed Graeme Craig at the top of the blueline and his powerplay slapper beat Schneider through a screen to make it 1-1. Craig’s 4th of the season was assisted by Busenius and Scherbak. The Blades nearly took the lead with 9:48 to play in the period as Scherbak made a nice move to stickhandle through a defender before dropping the puck off to Nick Zajac, as his hard shot hit Schneider in the shoulder and deflected out of the play. The fans then had a taste of fisticuffs as Ross Hnidy dropped the mitts with Dyson Stevenson. The quick fight didn’t last long as the two fell to the ice in the Blades zone. After a dynamite Trombley save 30 seconds after the scrap, the Pats scored to regain their lead. The final goal of the frame came at 15:26 when Adam Brooks hit Colby Williams with a cross-crease feed and he one-timed it home from the right circle to make it 2-1. A Blades PP late in the period failed to click as it was 2-1 on the scoreclock and 9-6 on the shot clock for Regina through 20 minutes.

 

The Pats came close to making it a 3-1 game very early in the second period as Chandler Stephenson fed Jesse Zgraggen on the rush, with the former Calgary Hitmen defender firing a hard shot that was stopped by a sliding Trombley only 37 seconds into the frame. The Pats continued to keep the pressure up, outshooting the Blades in the first several minutes of the frame. But, the Blades didn’t let it get them down. Ayrton Nikkel tied the game with his 4th of the season and 3rd in the past 4 games at 8:49 when he fired a shot from the right circle that beat Schneider off the post and in. The Blades then took the lead for the first time only 35 seconds later as a Clayton Kirichenko point shot beat Schneider through a crowd. Austin Adamson and Graham Millar assisted on Kirichenko’s 3rd of the season, which also chased Schneider from the Pats goal as he was replaced by Dawson MacAuley. The Pats then closed out the scoring in the period as a Kyle Burroughs point shot managed to beat Trombley and trickle in to make it 3-3 through 40 minutes. Shots were 15-5 in the period for Regina, who led in that category 24-12 after the first two periods.

After an offensive second period, goaltending was the story in period three. Just over a minute into the period the Blades nearly took the lead as a Scherbak shot left a rebound for the newest Blade, with Connor Sanvido just failing to get a shot away from the top of the crease. Then it was Troy Trombley’s chance to stand tall with his 6’6 frame. He made a keep stop on Jesse Zgraggen 3:30 into the period as he walked into the slot and let a hard wrister go off the goalies shoulder. Trombley then made back to back to back stops on Klimchuk, stopping the Flames prospect beside the net and also robbing him off two chances in the slot as the period combined to be scoreless from the Brandt Centre. The Blades had their own chances late in the third with Sanvido just missing short side on an attempt, Nick Zajac just failing to cash in on a rebound and Ryan Graham getting stopped off a great look from the slot late in regulation. Shots were 17-11 in the third period for the Pats as the two teams headed for overtime.

There wasn’t a ton of quality chances in the extra frame, with a Dyson Stevenson feed to Hunt being the best chance. The look came early in overtime with Trombley sliding to his right and robbing the forward right on top of the crease to keep the game all tied up. Shots ended up being 5-0 Pats in the extra five minute stanza, but Trombley continued to build on his good night to keep it a tie game. The buzzer sounded and the game was off to the shootout.

Boston Leier shot first for the Pats and scored, making a nice move and finishing on the backhand. After the next four shooters were stopped, the game was on the stick of Connor Sanvido. The new Blade need to score to keep it alive and he did. His hard wrister beat MacAuley on the glove side to get the shootout to extra rounds. In the extra round, Dyson Stevenson slid the puck fivehole to go up 1-0, with Brett Stovin failing to score on his attempt as the Pats walked away with the victory.

Trombley took home first star honours thanks to his 43 save night. Hunt and Stevenson were named second and third stars for Regina. The Blades were 1 for 3 on the PP in the game and also went 3 for 3 on the PK, while picking up a point for the second straight game.

The Blades now have Ukrainian Night up next, with the 101st Grey Cup Champion Saskatchewan Roughriders also appearing at the game for autographs and a special ceremony tomorrow Saturday, January 4th.

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