Wheaties Outscore Blades

PHOTO COURTESY: Steve Hiscock

The Saskatoon Blades kicked off their final week of the season with a wild game in Brandon on Tuesday night. The back and forth affair had the team’s combine for 13 goals and 88 shots as Brandon won 8-5 on home ice.

Saskatoon was able to generate the first good chance of the game in Brandon on Tuesday night as a Cory Millette shot from the top of the left circle was tipped on net by Chase Clayton, with Jordan Papirny just getting enough of it to keep it out. After that key stop, Brandon’s first good chance of the game went in as Jesse Gabrielle was able to walk in down the right side and lift a shot under the bar, short-side past Troy Trombley to make it a 1-0 game at 3:48. The Blades were close to tying it up near the 6-minute mark when Nick Zajac took a feed in front and nearly lifted a shot in from the top of the crease, with Papirny once again having an answer. The Blades would keep the pressure up and tie the game up at 9:14 while on the powerplay. Nikita Scherbak and Cameron Hebig combined for a great give and go play while walking across the blueline, with Scherbak eventually taking a feed and returning it to Hebig who crashed the net, with the Saskatoon-product sliding in his 13th to make it a 1-1 game. Jordan Thomson drew the second assist, giving him his 3rd point as a Blade in his 6th game. But the tie game wouldn’t last long. 2:14 later the Wheat Kings would tally on their own PP as Ryan Pulock would blast a one-timer past Trombley to make it 2-1. Brandon would close out the period with another tally as Rene Hunter’s point shot would beat Trombley at 19:27, giving the Wheat Kings a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Brandon didn’t hesitate in adding to the lead to start the second period. Only 16 seconds into the frame Richard Nejezchleb walked down the wing and attempted a centering pass. The pass was blocked, but the puck ended up going back to his tape and he ripped a shot short-side on Trombley to make it 4-1. Only 2:15 later the Wheat Kings extended the lead as Braylon Shmyr walked in alone down the left side, head-faked Trombley and roofed the puck for his 3rd of the season to make it 5-1. That goal would end the night for Trombley as Brandon Kegler would replace the 19 year old in net for the Blades. Saskatoon would then cut into the lead at 7:53 when a point shot by MacKenzie Johnston would go off the end boards and bounce right in front to Cory Millette, who would slide home his 15th of the year to make it 5-2. The period would end with a flurry, though, as Rihards Bukarts would shoot from beside the Blades net at 17:33, with his shot deflecting up and over Kegler to make it 6-2. Saskatoon would answer only 19 seconds later when a David Nemecek shot from the point would get by Papirny for his 5th of the season. But the Wheat Kings would end the period the way they started it, scoring. After a turnover in the Blades end, Chad Robinson would slide the puck across the slot to John Quenneville and he would blast a one-timer past Kegler to make it a 7-3 game through 40 minutes.

Brandon nearly extended the lead to 8-3 in the first minute of the third period, with Nolan Patrick looking to score his first ever WHL goal as he cut across the slot. He beat Kegler with the shot, but the play had been blown dead due to a penalty to the Wheat Kings. But, being shorthanded didn’t stop Brandon from extending the lead for real minutes later. Tim McGauley blocked a shot at his own blue line then rushed down the ice, lifting a backhander past Kegler at 2:39 to make it a 5-goal game. Saskatoon wouldn’t sick back, though. Cameron Hebig walked down his off-wing on the PP, wiring a shot high to the glove side of Papirny, only to be stopped. Then the game had it’s first fight as Nick Zajac dropped the mitts with Jesse Gabrielle. Both guys threw big bombs, with Zajac earning the takedown. Saskatoon then got a goal from their top line to cut into the lead at 6:03. A scramble in front would end up with the puck on the stick of Ryan Graham with the big forward sliding home his 13th to make it 8-4. Saskatoon would keep the pressure on and cut into the lead further at 10:44. A Kirichenko point shot would hit the end boards and bounce out to Chase Clayton, who fired in his 10th from beside the net to make it an 8-5 game. Saskatoon’s only great chance in the last few minutes would come off the stick of Graham as he would take a feed coming down the left wing and fire it, but Papirny would get a glove on it to keep it out. That chance would be as close as the Blades would come as Papirny was solid, despite surrendering 5 goals.

The Brandon goaltender would be named the 3rd star in the 8-5 game as Saskatoon was 2 for 4 on the PP and 4 for 6 on the PK. Shots ended up being 46-42 in the wide-open affair.

The Blades will continue this trip on Wednesday night in Swift Current as they meet Nathan Burns and the Broncos.

The Blades will finish the season this weekend with their annual home and home with Prince Albert. The final game of the year goes on Saturday night at home against the Raiders and the Blades have a very special prize up for grabs. The Blades will be chasing a WHL record as the 50-50 jackpot for the game will be starting at $50,000 as soon as the doors open. The pot has potential to hit $200,000 so you want to be in the building for your chance at the big prize.

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