Blades Look To Harvest Wheat Kings: Game Preview

OFF THE TOP: The Blades kick off a two-game road trip tonight in Brandon, facing the Wheat Kings in the first of eight meetings this season. Last year, the Manitobans had the upper hand on the Blades, winning six of eight, all in a row after dropping the first two by a combined score of 8-4. Coming into tonight’s matchup, Brandon sits atop the WHL’s Eastern Conference standings with a perfect 2-0 record after handing the Regina Pats back-to-back losses last weekend, outscoring them 10-3. Eighteen-year-old centre Duncan Campbell currently paces the WHL in rookie scoring, co-leading the Wheat Kings with three points (1G, 2A) in two games so far this season.

LAST GAME – SEPT. 20, 2014: For the second straight night, veteran winger Nick Zajac opened the scoring early to give a Blades a 1-0 lead, but that was all she wrote on the offensive side of the ledger. The Prince Albert Raiders stormed back with three unanswered (Tomas Andrlik, Dakota Conroy and Reid Gardiner), spoiling the Blades’ home opener with a 3-1 win in front of 6,337 at Credit Union Centre. Making his WHL debut, Blades goaltender Trevor Martin made 27 saves in a losing cause.

The Blades remain winless in 2014-15, sporting a 0-2-0 record heading into tonight’s contest.

STOP. AMMER-TIME! The Blades announced a blockbuster trade this past Monday, dealing superstar winger Nikita Scherbak to the Everett Silvertips in exchange for goaltender Nik Amundrud, a first round pick in 2015, and a second round pick in 2015. Amudrud, a soon-to-be-17-year-old product of Melfort, SK, was the top goalie in the pre-season, leading the WHL with a 0.51 goals-against average and a .981 save percentage, allowing only one goal in four appearances.

The 6-foot-1, 165-pound netminder spent most of the 2013-14 campaign with the North East Midget AA team in Saskatchewan’s Centre Four Hockey League, registering a 9-2-1 record and a 2.81 goals-against average in 14 games played.

Amundrud will back up Trevor Martin tonight in Brandon, but is expected to make his Blades – and WHL – debut tomorrow night against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

2014-15 LEADING SCORERS:
Nick Zajac: 2GP-2G-0A-2PTS
Wyatt Sloboshan: 2GP-1G-1A-2PTS
Turner Ottenbreit: 2GP-1G-0A-1PT

2014-15 SPECIAL TEAMS:
PP: 0% (T-17th); PK: 90.9% (7th)

2014 (PRE-SEASON) LEADING SCORERS:
Wyatt Sloboshan: 5GP-3G-2A-5PTS
Amil Krupic: 5GP-2G-3A-5PTS
Austin Adamson: 4GP: 2G-2A-4PTS

2014 (PRE-SEASON) SPECIAL TEAMS:
PP: 15.2% (9th); PK: 85.4% (12th)

RECENT TRANSACTIONS: Acquired right-winger Sam McKechnie from the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for a conditional sixth round pick in 2015 (Sept. 25); assigned defenceman Nolan Reid to Notre Dame Midget AAA (Sept. 24); released defenceman Ross Hnidy (Sept. 22); acquired goaltender Nik Amundrud, a first round pick in 2015, and a second round pick in 2016 from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for Nikita Scherbak (Sept. 22); released goaltender Troy Trombley (Sept. 22).

FABULOUS FIRSTS: A pair of Blades scored their first-career WHL goals on opening night, Sept. 19 in Prince Albert. Wyatt Sloboshan secured his at 13:25 of the second period, while Turner Ottenbreit found the twine at 10:42 of the third. Sloboshan also recorded his first-career WHL assist, adding the lone helper on Ottenbreit’s tally.

THERE’S A NEW (BENCH) BOSS IN TOWN: Hired on Jun. 2, 2014, Bob Woods made his Western Hockey League coaching debut on Sept. 19 in Prince Albert. Woods, 46 and a product of LeRoy, SK, brings 13 years of experience and a championship-winning pedigree to the City of Bridges. He won a Calder Cup as an assistant coach with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears back in 2006, and again in 2009 after being promoted to the head-coaching position. Joining the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League as an assistant later that spring, he helped guide the club to a pair of Southeast Division titles and the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy with a 54-15-13 record for 121 points. As a player/assistant coach in 1999, Woods won a Kelly Cup with the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves. Assuming the full-time head-coaching position back in 2001, he led the Wolves to 179 wins in 288 regular-season games, emerging as a championship contender in each of his four seasons behind the bench.

Woods was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2012.

Reunited with Bruce Boudreau, with whom he’d be coaching for nearly a decade, Woods spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL heavyweight Anaheim Ducks.

ROOKIE REVOLUTION: Of the 25 players currently on the Blades active roster, nine are rookies (Schael Higson, Amil Krupic, Turner Ottenbreit, Garrett Armour, Chasetan Braid, Wyatt Sloboshan, Nikita Soshnin, Nik Amundrud and Trevor Martin). Krupic, an import defenceman, and Saskatchewan’s own Sloboshan led the Blades in pre-season scoring, each recording five points in as many games to round out the exhibition schedule.

HOME AGAIN: Eight players from Saskatchewan, including three from Saskatoon, are on the Blades roster.

MILESTONES WITHIN REACH: The next regular-season win will be the Blades’ 1600th in WHL franchise history.

 

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