Ice Freeze Out Blades

It was a fast-paced, offensive game as the Blades kicked off a two-game trip west on Tuesday night against the Kootenay Ice. In the end it was the top players on the Ice who led the way as the line of Jaedon Descheneau, Sam Reinhart and Zach Franko combined for 16 points as Kootenay defeated Saskatoon 6-3.

It was an entertaining and high scoring opening period between the Blades and Ice on Tuesday night and it started with a good early chance for Saskatoon. Graham Millar had a pair of point blank chances in the first three minutes, but was turned aside by Ice goaltender MacKenzie Skapski. After the pair of saves, the Ice exploded offensively. Sam Reinhart got the scoring started at 4:38, shooting from the slot and seeing his shot just sneak through Blades starter Troy Trombley to make it 1-0. That lead was doubled when the team’s leading goal man Jaedon Descheneau took a feed from Reinhart and scored at 6:34 to make it 2-0 with his 32nd. He would then score his 33rd at 9:45, with Reinhart picking up another assist to give both players three points in the opening 10 minutes. But Saskatoon would start to push back. After some good work behind the net, Nick Gomerich fed Cory Millette in front and the veteran made it count as he slid home his 13th of the season to make it a 3-1 game at 15:36. Dylan Busenius picked up the secondary assist during his 299th career regular season WHL game. Minutes after the goal a Chase Clayton post nearly made it a one goal game, but Saskatoon wasn’t going to be denied. In on the forecheck, Logan Harland stole the puck at 17:26 and fed Mitch Lipon in front with the former Kamloops Blazer sliding home his 4th of the season to make it 3-2. Saskatoon continued to push, closing the shot differential with the late period surge but they couldn’t earn the tying goal. It was a 3-2 game through 20 minutes with the shots sitting at 14-9 Kootenay.

After a solid end to the first period for Saskatoon, the second period didn’t start quite the same way. Only 1:28 into the middle frame Reinhart fed Franko on the rush, with the 20 year old winger firing home a shot to make it 4-2 with his 16th of the season. The Ice kept the pressure up, making it 5-2 just over 3 minutes later when Descheneau completed his hat-trick. The goal came on the PP at 4:49 when he took a feed from Reinhart and made it a 5-2 game, giving both himself and Reinhart 5-point games to that point. After trading chances, special teams began playing a big role in the stanza. Saskatoon nearly took advantage of one of their PP chances late in the frame, with Chase Clayton sneaking behind both Ice defenders, taking a feed and being left alone in front. Unfortunately both of his close chances were knocked aside by Skapski, who helped maintain his team’s 3-goal lead. The Ice then nearly extended the lead further in the final minute of the frame while on a 5 on 3. They hit a pair of posts, including on a chance by Descheneau as the buzzer sounded with the game sitting at 5-2 through 40 minutes. Shots were 14-11 Kootenay in the period for a two-period total of 28-20.

Saskatoon began the frame down two men in a shorthanded situation, but the PK was strong. After killing off the opportunity, Saskatoon went to work on their own powerplay and made it count. Dylan Busenius threw the puck on net at the 5:19 mark, with Chase Clayton deflecting the puck to Cameron Hebig, who jammed home his 8th of the season to make it a 5-3 game. Saskatoon kept the pressure up, getting a great look minutes later when Millette fed Clayton, who would have his hard wrist shot snared out of the air by Skapski as the big goalie’s sprawling stop kept it a two-goal game. Saskatoon continued to try and generate chances off the rush, with a Brett Stovin chance also getting denied with under 8 minutes remaining as his shot from the top of the circle was swallowed up by Skapski. As Saskatoon continued to push, tempers started to flare. Nick Zajac dropped the mitts with Zach McPhee with under 5 minutes to play, with Zajac giving up 6 inches and 20 pounds in the fight. Then Clayton squared off with Austin Vetterl after the two exchanged shoves in the Blades end with 1:32 remaining. Saskatoon had one final great chance late in the game as Millette nearly tucked one home at the side of the net in the final minute, only to be stopped by Skapski. Zach Franko would hit the empty net after a Blades timeout, sealing the 6-3 win. The Ice’ top line of Descheneau, Reinhart, Franko were the three stars as they combined for 16 points in the win.

The Blades continue their trip west on Wednesday as the team travels to take on Lethbridge.

 

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