Blades Look To Sink Raiders In Season Opener

OFF THE TOP: The Saskatoon Blades will open their 51st season tonight with the first of eight meetings against the Prince Albert Raiders. In 2013-14, the Raiders had the upper hand on the Blades, collecting 14 of a possible 16 points (7-1-0). PA won all four games at the Art Hauser Centre, outscoring the Blades 21-10, which includes a 7-2 score on Mar. 14. In the 2014 pre-season, the teams split a back-to-back set on Sept. 5 and 6, with each team winning on home ice.

LAST GAME (PRE-SEASON #6) – SEPT. 13, 2014: Glenn Gawdin scored twice, while Jay Merkley picked up a goal and two assists as the Swift Current Broncos staved off a late Blades rally, defeating Saskatoon 4-2 in Maple Creek, SK. Austin Adamson and Wyatt Sloboshan each scored for the Blades, while 20-year-old Troy Trombley – making his third start of the exhibition schedule – surrendered all four goals by the Broncos.

After a 37-point 2013-14 campaign (16-51-2-3, 11th in Eastern Conference), the Blades assembled a 3-2-1 record in the pre-season, earning wins over the Raiders, Broncos and Medicine Hat Tigers.

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)

2013-14 LEADING SCORERS:
Nikita Scherbak: 65GP-28G-50A-78PTS
Connor Sanvido: 68GP-16G-24A-40PTS
Cory Millette: 63GP-17G-17A-34PTS

2013-14 SPECIAL TEAMS:
PP: 20.9% (11th); PK: 74.2% (19th)

THERE’S A NEW (BENCH) BOSS IN TOWN: Hired on Jun. 2, 2014, Bob Woods will make his Western Hockey League coaching debut tonight. 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, 10 are rookies (Schael Higson, Amil Krupic, Turner Ottenbreit, Nolan Reid, Garrett Armour, Chasetan Braid, Wyatt Sloboshan, Nikita Soshnin, Michael Herringer 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: Nine players from Saskatchewan, including three from Saskatoon, are on the Blades roster.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS: Acquired 19-year-old D Isaac Schacher from Regina in exchange for an eigth round pick on Sept. 17; Logan Harland was released on Sept. 16; Michael Herringer from Victoria for conditional picks on Sept. 16; acquired ’96-born forward Josh Uhrich from Moose Jaw in exchange for a fourth round pick in 2015 on Sept. 8.

GONE CAMPING: Nikita Scherbak, Nelson Nogier and Ryan Graham will not be in the lineup tonight as all three are off attending NHL training camps (Montreal, Winnipeg and Minnesota, respectively).

MILESTONES WITHIN REACH: The next regular-season win will be the Blades’ 1600th in franchise history; Troy Trombley’s next game will be his 50th as a Blade.

HOME COOKIN’: The Blades’ home opener goes this Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Credit Union Centre. Puck drop is at 7:15, but the pre-game tailgate party kicks off well before that. Arrive eary to partake in a host of festivities both in and outside the arena beginning at 4:00pm. Tickets are still available.

LISTEN: Members of the Saskatoon Blades took some time this week to stop by and give me their thoughts heading into the season. You can hear it here:

 

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