Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two Saskatoon natives done with the Blades

Finally some Blades roster news as things remain up in the air as we approach the October 14th 20 year old deadline.

First of all, 20 year old forward Jeremy Boyer has cleared waivers. Boyer went unclaimed by another WHL team and he is now free to play junior A.

Second of all, 18 year old defenseman Jesse Williamson has been re-assigned to the AJHL's Bonnyville Pontiacs. Williamson spent last season with the Saskatoon Blazers, and played in 6 pre-season games registering 2 points.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sky's the limit for Mark McNeill

Being a big NHL draft and prospect follower, it was a pleasure for me to watch Mark McNeill of the Prince Albert Raiders during my two first WHL radio broadcasts.

The 17 year old from Edmonton was the 5th overall choice in the 2008 WHL bantam draft and should play a very large role with the Raiders this season.

It was a disappointing summer for McNeill. He attended Canada’s under 18 training camp with hopes of earning an invite to the Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia. After a strong camp, including 3 points in 3 games, McNeill was left off the roster.

Hopefully he can turn that into motivation going into his NHL draft year.

At 17 years old, he already has a man’s body. He stands 6’1.5 and weighs in at just under 210 pounds. And he shows that size on the ice. He likes to play physical hockey and is a great forechecker. He is also a right handed shot as a centre, something many teams covet as a bit of a rare commodity.

He is the meat and potatoes of the Prince Albert Raiders top line, centering Belarusian forward Igor Revenko and 37 goal man from last year Brandon Herrod. He will be doing the dirty work and looking to set up the two more gifted offensive players on his line.

Last season as a fresh-faced 16 year old, McNeill netted 24 points in 68 games, including 9 goals. Those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page at you, but you have to realize the role he played, and the fact that his team was not a playoff club.

I would definitely expect those numbers to atleast double this season. Already through 2 games this year he has a goal and an assist.

Mark also has a history of being a high calibre offensive threat. In his bantam draft year he had 69 points in 33 games. He followed that up in Midget the next year with 39 points in 33 games, with 21 goals.

Many scouting agencies have him ranked as high as the middle of the second round for the upcoming NHL draft, but at this point I think the sky is the limit for him. If he can embrace his new role with the Raiders this season, he could slide into that late first round territory with his impressive size and skillset combo.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Morrison on his way back from Philly?

A rumour is floating around this morning that goaltender Adam Morrison is returning to the Blades from Flyers training camp.

Many fans have been wondering what the status of Mo has been, as he hasn’t been dressing in the Flyers pre-season games. We all know the history of the Flyers goaltending issues, but it seemed a bit odd to let a 19 year old hang around for so long, with such a little chance of making the team.

Either way, if he is heading back, it’s great news for the Blades.

The crease will be a bit crowded, but it will ultimately help the brass make a decision on Steven Stanford.

Is he staying, or is he going?

Stanford is the backbone behind the team’s 20 year old decision this year.

The Blades play three games in three nights coming up this weekend, and Morrison may very well be given two games to show his worth.

Lorne Molleken and the staff clearly have an idea of what Morrison can do for this team, but no one has that inside information at this point.

Stanford has played very well to start the season for Saskatoon, so it will be tough to see him go. But, if the team thinks that Adam Morrison can carry this team on his back, then they won’t hesitate to make that move.

WHL teams have until the 14th of October to name there 3 20 year olds. Other 20 year olds fighting with Stanford for the last spot are Jeremy Boyer and Sena Acolatse, neither of whom have dressed for a game yet this season.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blades earn season opening sweep of PA

It wasn't pretty, but it was still effective. The Saskatoon Blades moved to 2-0 on the season last night after a 6-5 win over the Prince Albert Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre.

Saskatoon dominated the first 40 minutes of hockey, before Prince Albert scored 3 goals in the last half of the third period to make the score closer than it should have been.

Josh Nicholls and Marek Viedensky both had 2 goals for Saskatoon, while Stefan Elliott also scored in his return from Colorado Avalanche camp. Captain Teigan Zahn had the other goal shorthanded, when the Blades were down 2 men.

Special teams was also a big story with Saskatoon going 3 for 6 on the powerplay and killing off 7 of 8 Raider chances.

Saskatoon now has a big break before playing Friday night in Brandon. They also play Regina and Brandon a 2nd time in a busy weekend of 3 games in 3 nights.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stefan Elliott officially rejoins the Blades

He's on the bus as we are arriving in Prince Albert. I would expect him to dress tonight as he rushed from the airport to get on the bus. What an addition to the squad. Should be a great end to a spirited double header.

Randy McNaught traded to Vancouver and Stefan Elliott returns

Randy McNaught’s days as a Saskatoon Blade have come to an end. Following last night’s win over the Prince Albert Raiders, the 20 year old was shipped to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round pick in 2011.

It’s sad to see him go, as he was a great player for the organization, but it was a numbers game with a number of 20 year old's fighting for one spot. Vancouver will be pleased with there new enforcer.

As for Stefan Elliott, I blogged earlier this week that he would likely be back with the team following the Colorado Avalanche’s game against Dallas last night. That looks to be the case as the Avs have returned Elliott to the WHL.

There is a chance that he could be in the lineup tonight for the Blades, depending on his flights last night. The Avalanche-Stars game never ended until around 9 o’clock Saskatchewan time last night, so there is a chance he flew all night back into Saskatoon but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

It will be a welcome addition to the club once he does suit up. The team was obviously missing a high end offensive defender in the season opener last night, especially on the powerplay.

Blades Beat Raiders in Opener

Last night at the Credit Union Centre the Blades had a come from behind 3-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in front of over 5,000 fans.

The Raiders carried the majority of the play throughout the game, but Saskatoon dug down deep and found a way to come back and earn the victory.

For more of a recap, visit the Blades website:

http://www.saskatoonblades.com/article/saskatoon-defeats-prince-albert-in-their-season-opener

The two teams play again tonight from Prince Albert with a 7:00 puck drop. That game can once again be heard on The Bull 92.9

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blades Open The Season

The big day is finally here, opening night. There has been a ton of news over the last several weeks and days and it has been tough trying to keep it all straight. But, heading into my first real broadcast tonight I fell quite comfortable with all the details surrounding the current team.

It's going to be a fun night and it should be a great season to follow the Saskatoon Blades.

If you didn't know, the Prince Albert Raiders are in town tonight with a 7:05 puck drop from Credit Union Centre.

We hit the air with the pre-game show at 6:30 sharp.

The first game of the season have not really been too kind to the Blades over the years, getting 20 wins, 24 losses, and 2 tie. The stories a bit brighter for home openers though, going 28-15-1. These two teams last met in 2008 to open the year, with Prince Albert ripping up the Blades 8-2.

Steven Stanford gets the start for the Blades and I would assume that Jamie Tucker goes for the Raiders.

Head down to CUC and support the Blades! Or if you can't make it, listen on The Bull 92.9

Randy McNaught back to the Blades

The New York Rangers also made some moves today, following last night’s exhibition win over the rival New Jersey Devils.

They re-assigned a large chunk of players, one of them being Blades forward Randy McNaught. The 20 year old will be returned to Saskatoon.

Meanwhile Blades’ property Jyri Niemi was also re-assigned by the Rangers, but as many expected he was sent to the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack.

Former Blade Sam Klassen was also re-assigned to Hartford by the Rangers. He graduated last season from the Blades organization.

Patterson headed to the AHL

The Calgary Flames assigned 14 players to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL today, among them was Blades 20 year old forward Gaelan Patterson.

Last season with Saskatoon Patterson registered 59 points in 71 games. After the Blades season ended, he played 3 games in the AHL playoffs with the Heat, scoring one goal.

The news shouldn’t come as a surprise to most fans, as this possibility was known all throughout training camp.

Good luck to Gaelan this season and into his pro career.

Realistically the final 20 year old spot on the Blades will go to either Sena Acolatse, Steven Stanford or Jeremy Boyer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Josh Nicholls returns from Leaf's, and new news on Stefan Elliott.

Another key contributor for this year's club has returned from an NHL camp, Josh Nicholls.

The forward was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round 7 of this summer's entry draft and had been attending the teams training camp. Nicholls stuck around quite a while with the Buds, considering he never dressed for either of their first two pre-season games.

Last year with the Blades Nicholls had 48 points in 71 games, along with 5 points in 10 playoff games.

Now in regards to Stefan Elliott, he remains in camp with the Colorado Avalanche. He played in the teams first two preseason games against the Blues and the Kings. He also survived the second set of cuts made by the Avalanche, which were made today.

According to a source high up with the Blades, the intention is to have Elliott play in one more pre-season game with Colorado, then returned to Saskatoon. That game takes place on Friday night against Dallas.

If that plan plays out, that more than likely means Elliott will not dress for either of Saskatoon’s games on opening weekend against the Raiders.


Finally, yesterday I blogged about the fact that Adam Morrison was likely returning to Saskatoon from Flyers training camp. That has not yet been confirmed by either Saskatoon or Philadelphia. So, it looks like Steven Stanford will be the number one for both games this weekend, and the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Zahn new captain

Sounds like it's a done deal with the official announcement coming later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Teigan Zahn is the new captain of the 2010-2011 Saskatoon Blades.

The assistants are Curtis Hamilton (18yrs), Marek Viedensky (20yrs) and Duncan Siemens (17yrs)

Morrison on his way back? And a captain announcement soon?

The first rumour is that 19 year old goalie Adam Morrison has been returned to the Blades from the Philadelphia Flyers training camp. The move isn’t exactly surprising, as he is quite far down on the teams depth chart and wasn’t likely going to see any time in actual pre-season games. The move now puts some pressure on the team and Lorne Molleken to decide on how they will handle the goaltending duties this year. Has Morrison convinced them that he is ready to shoulder the entire load this year? Enough so to deal 20 year old Steven Stanford? Time will tell.

The other bit of news expected in the near future is the naming of the team’s captain.

If I was to hazard a guess, the obvious choice is 20 year old defenseman Teigan Zahn. Watch for that announcement sometime later this afternoon or this evening.

With Morrison coming back, that leaves only Stefan Elliott (Colorado) and Josh Nicholls (Toronto) away at NHL camps. Elliott is in the lineup for the Avalanche’s second pre-season game tonight against the LA Kings from the Pepsi Center. The Avs play again on Friday, then on Sunday. I would expect, and hope that Elliott is re-assigned after tonight’s game, to make sure he is in the lineup for Saskatoon’s opening games against Prince Albert this weekend.

As for Nicholls, his return would also be expected in the next two days. Maybe even after tonight’s exhibition game against Ottawa. Nicholl's did not play in last night's game, and doesn't look to be dressing in tonight's game either.

Curt Gogol gets a deal with San Jose

First off, congratulations to Curt. It was announced a couple of days ago that Gogol and the Sharks came to terms on an entry level contract.

The 19 year old was an invite to Sharks camp and had the chance to play in three pre-exhibition games for San Jose. The Sharks obviously liked what they saw out of the gritty Gogol after he registered 18 penalty minutes in those 3 games.

He has since returned to Saskatoon and actually practiced with the team yesterday. The season opens up in 2 days, and it will be nice to see him back in the lineup for opening night.

The Blades have looked good in the pre-season this year, but have definitely lacked that toughness that Gogol brings into every game. In fact, last year he had 149 penalty minutes in only 43 games, split between Saskatoon and Kelowna.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blades get Curtis Hamilton back

The 20 year old situation was a big story of this year’s pre-season for the Blades, along with the fact that around a dozen players were attending NHL training camps.

Well, one more player is back in the fold after being re-assigned by his NHL club.

Curtis Hamilton is headed back to Saskatoon from the Edmonton Oilers. He was one of 20 players given the snips by the Oil yesterday.

The Blades also received Teigan Zahn and Marek Viedensky in recent days from their NHL clubs.

Saskatoon is going to be counting on a big year from Hamilton this year. He registered 16 points in 26 games during an injury-plagued year last year. That was good enough to get himself drafted in round 2 by Edmonton.

He will be plugged into a top 6 role and provide more experience to a club that still has a very very young lineup as the regular season approaches.

Speaking of the regular season, it gets underway this Friday and Saturday with a home and home against the PA Raiders.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blades vs. Pats game as it goes

Period 1

The Saskatoon Blades lead the Regina Pats by a score of 1-0 after one period from the Credit Union Centre.

In the last minute of the period Matej Stransky cut behind the net and threw the puck out in front to Lukas Sutter. Sutter buried the puck shortside on starter Damian Ketlo. Darian Dziurzynski added the other assist on the goal.

The shots after one period were 14-5 for the home side.

Two players off Saskatoon who stood out in period one were 20 year old Jeremy Boyer, as well as 17 year old defender Duncan Siemens.

========================================

Period 2

The Saskatoon Blades added 3 more goals in period two and lead by a score of 4-0 after 40 minutes.

35 seconds into the period Brett Stovin picked up a loose puck at the Pats blueline, made a move past defender Tyler Borstmayer and went shelf on goalie Matt Hewitt. Hewitt had replaced Damian Ketlo, who only played the first 20 minutes. 16 year old Ryan Olsen had the lone assist on the goal.

At 7:34 the Blades made it 3-0. Goalie Matt Hewitt left the puck behind the net for a defender, but no one came to get it except for Saskatoon forward Lukas Sutter. Sutter centered the puck to Matej Stransky who had his first shot stopped, but banged in the rebound. A ghost assist was given to Darian Dziurzynski on the play.

Braeden Johnson made it 4-0 with a shorthanded goal at 17:12. Three Blades broke away on an odd man rush after a Pats turnover at the offensive blueline. Dziurzynski made a move to the net but was stopped. Teigan Zahn was stopped on the first rebound, but Johnson banged it home on the third try.

The shot after two periods are 38-9 for Saskatoon and they have dominated very facet of the game so far.

Two Blades that stood out in period two were 17 year old Lukas Sutter and 17 year old Matej Stransky.

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Period 3

The Blades killed a big 5 on 3 early in the period. Regina was up 2 men for 1:44. Steven Stanford made several big sliding saves to keep the Pats scoreless. Teigan Zahn was the second man out of the box during the kill. He was hit with a pass off the boards and went in all alone but was stopped by Hewitt. Landon Peel took a slashing penalty on the backcheck to cap off a great sequence for Saskatoon.

At 10:35 Darren Dietz carried the puck in down the wing. Defenseman Cody Carlson tried to stand him up, but Dietz ran over Carlson and sent him flying to the ice. The puck bounced to Ryan Olson, who quickly returned to Dietz behind the net. He quickly tucked it in behind an unsuspecting Matt Hewitt for a 5-0 Blades lead.

This game was totally one sided as the shots ended up being 54-16 for Saskatoon.

The best line of the game was easily the line of Stransky, Sutter and Dziurzynski. They generated several great scoring chances. Darian ended up with three assists on the night, with Stransky and Sutter each having a goal and an assist.

They finish the night as my three stars. Siemens and Zahn also both had strong games on the backend for Saskatoon.

That's it, a 5-0 final.

More roster moves for the Blades

The Saskatoon Blades made a pair of moves today before their pre-season game against the Regina Pats.

First, it was formally announced that Marek Viedensky has rejoined the team from the San Jose Sharks. Viedensky failed to make the main camp for the Sharks this fall. He is not in the lineup for tonight’s game.

The team also announced that goaltender Tyler Oswald has been re-assigned to his club team, the Dauphin Kings of the MJHL.

That leaves 3 goalies in camp, Adam Iwan, Steven Stanford and Adam Morrison.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blades deal Toomey

The arrival Marek Viedensky back to the Blades has yet to be announced, but a trade today almost confirms it in a way.

Saskatoon traded 20 year old forward Travis Toomey to the Seattle Thunderbirds. In return the Blades receive a 4th round bantam pick in 2011.

http://www.saskatoonblades.com/article/blades-trade-toomey-to-seattle-for-2011-draft-pick

Viedensky returning to Saskatoon?

A rumour has popped up that Marek Viedensky has been returned to the Saskatoon Blades from the San Jose Sharks. Having a tough time nailing down any confirmation on the details. We should know more within an hour or so as San Jose will be releasing their full training camp roster soon. That camp starts tomorrow.

If he in fact is returned to the Blades, it's a huge boost. He would automatically be the top centre on the team and he would also help clear up the 20 year old situation the team is facing.

With Viedensky and Zahn potentially back, that would mean there is only one spot up for grabs between Acolatse, Toomey, Sanford, Boyer, Patterson, McNaught and Niemi. I would expect it to be one of either Acolatse or Boyer who gets that final spot.

Blades get boost with the return of Zahn

The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-assigned 20 year old defenseman Teigan Zahn to the Saskatoon Blades. Zahn had been attending training camp in Florida with the Bolts.

This will be Zahn's 5th year with the club and now means that 8 defenseman are currently still in camp with Saskatoon. It may make things more confusing numbers-wise, but this is a huge boost for the team. Zahn is a more than solid top 4 defender and likely be among the top minute getters on the club this coming season. He will also have a very good chance of wearing the 'C' on his jersey when the season officially opens in one week from tonight.

The Blades were also involved in another transaction, sending 16 year old forward Hudson Morrison back to his club team in Manitoba. He will play this year for the Southwest Cougars Midget AAA team. He dressed in 5 pre-season games, registering no points and 2 penalty minutes.

As of right now, 31 players remaining in camp with Saskatoon. A number of players also remain away at NHL camps.

Next up for the Blades, a home pre-season game against Regina from the Credit Union Centre. Saskatoon is coming off a 4-3 win over the Pats on Wednesday night. With that win Saskatoon sits at 3-1-1 in pre-season action, with Regina falling to 1-3-1.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blades Re-Assign a goalie

5 goalies remained in camp going into today, but now only 4 remain.

16 year old Adam Todd was re-assigned to his club team, the Okanagan Rockets. He appeared in three games with the Blades this preseason, playing a total of 120 minutes. He had a save percentage of .921 after stopping an impressive 47 of 51 shots.

Look for him to make a solid splash with the team next fall as a 17 year old.

The 4 goalies remaining with the team are Adam Iwan (17yo), Tyler Oswald (17yo), Adam Morrison (19yo) and Steven Stanford (20yo).

Next up for the Blades, a road game in Regina, tomorrow night. It can be heard on The Bull 92.9.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Morgan Rielly was the treat of my week

The Saskatoon Blades continued their preseason over the weekend, playing Moose Jaw in back to back games. Unfortunately, they came out on the bottom end of both games.

On Friday I had my first chance to call a game for the team. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It definitely wasn’t my best call, as it still is pre-season for broadcasters too!

Riding the bus to Moose Jaw was also great, getting to sit up front with the man himself Lorne Molleken, Jack Brodsky and assistant coaches Dave Struch and Jerome Engele.

I also got to meet a few more of the players including Duncan Siemens, projected to be a top 15 pick in this coming NHL entry draft.

It was also my first experience visiting the Crushed Can in Moose Jaw. What a building that is. I have driven by it on several occasions when visiting the Jaw for hockey when I was younger, but I had never been inside. It is the final year for the Can this year, and it sounds like the Warriors and the city is excited about the new arena and how it looks so far during construction.

Anyways, the highlight of the entire trip was getting to finally see Morgan Rielly in action. Les Lazaruk and I had the chance to visit with Warriors coach Dave Hunchak before the game and he assured us the slick skating defenseman was the real deal.

Once he hit the ice it was obvious that that was true.

Rielly has been a standout for the last couple of years, playing in Notre Dame.

As a bantam in 2008-2009, the Vancouver, BC native registered an amazing 84 points in only 43 games for Notre Dame. That included 41 goals, and 43 assists. Wow.

That was enough wow to be drafted 2nd overall in the 2009 WHL bantam draft by the Moose Jaw Warrirors.

He got bumped to midget last season, and was still very impressive. He registered 55 points in 43 games during the regular season. In the playoffs he added 9 more points, including 7 goals. The Midget AAA Hounds also won the provincial championship and the Telus Cup.

Safe to say I was excited to watch this kid.

He didn’t disappoint.

He is a fluid and graceful skater. That was definitely the first thing that I noticed about him. It was effortless and he wasn’t afraid to rush the puck. In fact, during the game on Friday night he rushed the puck up the ice untouched 4 or 5 times.

At only 16 he also has a head for the game. He knew where to be at what times and was able to break up a few plays just based on positioning alone. He has decent upper body strength and defends the position well for someone so young.

This fall he topped out at 6’0 and 190 pounds. That’s an inch taller and 12 pounds heavier than last winter. I also think that he can grow another inch or two, and gain another 5-10 pounds in the next year or two.

He ended up getting one assist in a 3-2 Moose Jaw shootout win and Les and I named him as the first star of the game. He was clearly the best player on the ice for either team during a game that featured several 20 year old's.

His NHL draft year is still two years away, not until 2012 and he is already listed among the potential top 15 or 20 picks. The sky is truly the limit for him. I am not a fan of giving player comparisons, because that could involve expectations. But if I had to compare anyone to Rielly, it would have to be Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks. Both are around average size, are magical skaters, are left handed shots and play the game very solid both ways.

This kid is going to be fun to watch grow over the next number of seasons, and it is clear at this point that the Moose Jaw Warriors will have atleast one stud on their blueline for the next several years.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blades suffer 2nd straight exhibition loss

Moose Jaw got the best of the Blades again tonight. This time at the Credit Union Centre.

The Blades official website has the wrap:

http://www.saskatoonblades.com/article/blades-fall-to-warriors-4-2

Next up the Blades play in Regina next Wednesday the 15th. They are home against the Pats on Saturday the 18th.

Blades fall in shootout in Moose Jaw

Last night at the "Crushed Can" in Moose Jaw, a slightly older lineup of Saskatoon Blades' fell 3-2.

It was an ugly game for the most part with sloppy and chippy play. The Warriors carried the play for the vast majority of the game, doubling the Blades in the shot category throughout. With that being said, it was a gutsy effort by the Blades, who trailed 2-0 up until midway through the third.

Austin Daae (pronounced Dough) picked up a bobbled puck at the Warriors blueline and walked in all alone and slid the puck past goalie Brandon Glover to get the Blades on the board in the third. That set up a dramatic ending to regulation. Lukas Sutter picked up a loose puck in the corner, and fired it on net. It found it's way between Glover's legs with less than 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock. After a brief discussion amongst themselves, the officials counted the goal.

Overtime resulted in nothing, and Sam Fioretti scored the only goal of the shootout for Moose Jaw.

There were two main storylines of the game, the goaltending and the Blades penalty kill. Saskatoon was shorthanded on 9 occasions, and killed them all. A big part of that was due to the goaltending.

Tyler Oswald started the game for the Blades, and was great stopping 15 of 16 shots he faced. Adam Iwan (EYE-wan) was even better, coming in midway through the game. He stopped 18 of 19 shots, including several huge saves while killing an extended 5 on 3.

As mentioned, the Blades dressed a slightly older lineup for their 3rd preseason game. 20 year old's Jeremy Boyer, Sena Acolatse and Travis Toomey all were in the lineup. Acolatse and Toomey didn't last long, as both were tossed for seperate fighting majors.

The Blades are now 2-0-1 in the pre-season, with Moose Jaw moving to 3-1.

The two teams have a rematch scheduled for tonight, this time in Saskatoon. The puck drop goes at 7:05 at the Credit Union Centre.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blades in Moose Jaw Tonight

Tonight is game 3 of the Saskatoon Blades exhibition schedule. The team heads to Moose Jaw for a 7 o’clock puck drop.

After dressing a lineup of mostly 15, 16 and 17 year old’s during a home and home with the Raiders last week, the team is going with an older grouping for tonight’s game.

Travis Toomey, Sena Acolatse and Jeremy Boyer are all drawing into the lineup. All three are 20 year olds.

This decision makes one thing painfully clear for the Blades moving forward, many of the jobs are still up for grabs. The insertion of the 20 year old's shows to me that they, along with the younger players are fighting for the few spots available to them.

The entire 20 year old situation on the team continues to complicate things as it won’t be known for weeks who will be returning to the WHL for next season. Out of the 8 20 year old’s eligible to return, only 3 can stick on the roster. That decision has to be made by the 10th of next month.

10 players are also attending NHL camps starting this week, many of them only being 18 and freshly drafted. It will be up to many of the 16 and 17 year olds to plug the holes left by those players over the course of the next few weeks, including the start to the regular season.

After tonight’s game, two more pre-season games remain for the Blades, including tomorrow night back in Saskatoon against Moose Jaw.

For those interested, tonight’s game will be broadcast live on The Bull, 92.9 FM.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blades trade Charles Inglis

The Saskatoon Blades murky picture up front got a little more clear this evening as they dealt 18 year old forward Charles Inglis to the Prince George Cougars.

In return the Blades receive a 2nd round pick in next year’s bantam draft.

It has become evident so far through camp that many young players will be able to pick up the slack and play solid minutes if needed. Several of those players are 16 and 17 years old.

The immediate future of the team is still a question mark, and will remain so for atleast the next few weeks as several players will be attending NHL camps in the next two weeks.

Inglis will likely fit right in on a young Prince George team and be able to play top 6 minutes right way. That is something that would have likely not been guaranteed if he had stayed in Saskatoon.

Good luck to Charles in Prince George, as well as during his upcoming trip to the desert for Phoenix Coyotes rookie and training camps.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Young Blades squad wins again

The Saskatoon Blades once again handled the Prince Albert Raiders in exhibition action last night from Martensville.

The group of 15, 16 and 17 year olds scored early and often in a 5-0 romp. It was a dominating performance with the Blades outshooting the much older Raiders squad 41-17. The team got two goals each from 17 year old's Alex Elliott and Brent Benson. 18 year old Josh Nicholls had the other tally. Adam Iwan started in net for the Blades but only faced 3 shots in the first period. Adam Todd played the final 2 periods, stopping 14 shots.

Following the game the teams remaining 15 year olds were sent back to their midget teams. That includes C Tim McGauley (Regina Pat Canadians), RW Nicholas Zajac (Winnipeg) and D Ayrton Nikkel (Kelowna).

The Blades have 4 exhibition games remaining. They play a home and home with the Moose Jaw Warriors next weekend. It kicks off Friday the 10th in Moose Jaw, then Saturday the 11th in Saskatoon. The Blades finish off with a pair of games against the Pats. On the road on the 15th and home on the 18th at the Credit Union Centre.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Western League is packed full of talent

There are several players I can't wait to see suit up in the WHL this year. My new position in the press box will give me the perfect view of some of my favourite players and prospects in the league. I also might have the chance to interview them in between periods or after games, which will be another thrill in itself.

Here’s the short list:

Stefan Elliott - He has to be number one. First and foremost I am a Colorado Avalanche fan. When he fell all the way to the Avs at number 49 in the 2009 draft I was so excited. He was one of my favourite players on the Blades at the time and I had no expectations of the Avs being able to draft him. Well they did, and he has done nothing but get better ever since. I truly think that this year Stefan has the chance to be named as the top defenseman in the entire WHL. He is the total package, plays both ends of the ice and skates like the wind. I expect he will get a good, hard look at Avalanche camp in the middle of this month, but with only one spot being open on the NHL team I think he has his spot on the Blades blueline all but guaranteed. I can’t wait to see him take his game to another level yet again.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Ryan has long been considered one of the top prospects for the 2011 NHL draft. Last season he was near a point per game in his first full season in the league as a 16 year old. Many people consider him to be the third best prospect in the world for next summer’s entry draft, and he may even play well enough this year to be mentioned in the same sentence as Sean Couturier and Adam Larsson, who are the 2 leaders for that race as of right now, in most people’s mind. The Red Deer Rebels are making two stops at the Credit Union Centre this year (Jan. 11th and Feb. 1st), and it’s safe to say that I am looking very forward to those dates.

Nino Niederreiter – Nino played well enough last year with the Portland Winter Hawks to be drafted 5th overall by the New York Islanders. Last year was his first in North America, and he also had a chance to play for the Swiss team at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Saskatoon. That was the first time I saw him LIVE, and instantly fell in love with the game he plays. He already has the body of a full grown man at the age of 17 and knows how to use it on the ice. He is good at both ends of the ice, throws his weight around, but has the hands of a goal scorer. There have been some interesting rumours this week that the Islanders plan on keeping Nino in the NHL this year. I think it is definitely too premature for something like this to be reported, or believed as NHL teams don’t have camps open yet. We will keep an eye on that situation, and I may even post the longer version in a few days. So, if Nino returns to Portland, that date will be more than circled on my calendar.

Duncan Siemens
- This Blades defender is considered a first round talent, and may even be considered a top 10 talent for the 2011 NHL draft. He is big and mean, but can still make a strong first pass and play a good two way game. I will greatly enjoy watching Duncan grow and mature this year leading up til his draft day in late June.

Michael St. Croix
– The Edmonton Oil Kings continue to plug away and it seems as though they might have a real diamond in the rough with this forward. He had a strong rookie season last year, good enough to create a buzz going into his draft year. I think Edmonton could be a team that takes a step forward this year, and St. Croix will need to be in the middle of any success. The Oil Kings make two trips to Saskatoon this year and my interest will be peaked to see some St. Croix.

There are more players that could be named, but maybe I will save those for when certain teams are about to take on the Bridge City Bunch.

Blades win exhibition opener

Last night in Prince Albert the Saskatoon Blades outshot the Raiders 39-28 enroute to a 3-2 shootout win. Youngsters Ryan Olsen and Tim McGauley had the goals in the shootout. For the complete wrap up, visit the Blades website here:

http://www.saskatoonblades.com/News/Blades_News/1040/