Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blades earn home and home sweep of Broncos

It was the Swift Current Broncos who hit the board first last night against the Blades.

Brad Hoban got his 16th goal of the season for Swift Current at 5:39 of the first.

But, the Blades were quick to bounce back.

Not even 2 minutes later Brayden Schenn scored his 4th goal of the season to tie the game at one. It was Schenn's 4th goal of the year, 3rd as a Blade, all 3 of which have come on the road.

Saskatoon would take the lead at 10:09 of the first on the powerplay as Jake Trask fired a low shot home past Mark Friesen.

Matty Stransky would extend the Blades lead to 3-1 in the second period as he scored his 10th goal of the season.

That would be the final. 3-1 for Saskatoon.

It was the last meeting of the season between the two teams, with the Blades winning 6 of the 8 matchups.

Steven Stanford started and won for the Blades, making 35 saves. Mark Friesen had 30 saves in the loss.

Saskatoon's penalty kill continues to be great, going 7 for 7. They have surrendered one goal in the last 26 shorthanded chances.

Next up for Saskatoon a huge matchup with the Red Deer Rebels. They come to town on Tuesday night for a rematch of the New Year's Day game that wasn't short of fireworks.

That game goes at 7:05, starting with the pregame show on 92.9 The Bull at 6:30.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Good start leads to Blades win

Saskatoon jumped out in front early against the Swift Current Broncos last night.

The final ended up 6-3 for the Blades.

Saskatoon got goals from Josh Nicholls and Matty Stransky in the first 8:24. That was the score after one.

They kept the gas pedal floored as they headed into the second as they got three more goals. Those came from Chris Collins, Marek Viedensy and Darian Dziurzynski.

Adam Lowry would score at 11:02 of the 2nd period to cut it to 5-1 and that was the final after 2.

The Blades added to their lead again to start the third as Chris Collins got his 2nd of the night at 4:21.

The Broncos added a pair late, from Dalton Reum and Justin Dowling, to make the score alot more respectable.

Saskatoon led in the shot department 46-29. In goal, Steven Stanford made 26 saves to pick up another win. For Swift Current, Mark Friesen was pulled after the two goals in the first period. 17 year old Austin Smith played for a stretch, and played quite well stopping 12 of 14 shots before Friesen returned to the game in the 2nd period when it was 4-0.

The two teams do battle again tonight, this time from Swift Current. I won't be making the trip to the game due to an early early early work committment with my other job. You can go ahead and listen on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pregame show at 6:30.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Broncos come to town

I won't be able to post this before the game tomorrow night here in Saskatoon, so I figured I would post my game preview tonight while I have a free second.

The Blades are coming off a 2 game sweep of Alberta where they beat the Hitmen 8-4 on Tuesday night and followed that up with a 4-3 win in Edmonton on Wednesday.

They continue to lead the division, conference and league, despite a very strong push from several teams including the Red Deer Rebels, who have 9 wins in their last 10 games.

The Broncos are going in the opposite direction, losers of 4 straight games. Their last win actually came in Saskatoon on the 15th of this month, 3-2.

It's tough to figure out for the Broncos. When they won that game in Saskatoon, it seemed like they would be starting to move in the right direction and getting healthy. It will be interesting to see what kind of game they bring to the CUC tomorrow night.

Speaking of the game, here are my keys for each team.

For Swift Current

- Survive the first few minutes. The Blades get off to quick starts and create chances, especially at home. The Broncos can’t fall behind quickly.

- Stay out of the box, the Blades PP has been good lately. Since the debut of Brayden Schenn, the Blades are 5 for 15.

- And Mark Friesen needs to play well. He made 29 saves last time the Broncos were here, getting Swift Current the win. He needs to do that again.

For Saskatoon

- Capitalize on their early chances. In all 3 games that Schenn has played in, the top line has been very very good early. A goal by them early would be huge.

- Get continued balance offense. A focus on that top line by Swift Current should create some more room for the other lines offensively with favourable matchups, they have to make those chances count.

- And stick to the gameplan. Despite still winning games, the team has been known for taking it’s foot off the gas at times. They have to work on these types of things before the playoffs.

Gametime goes tomorrow night at CUC at 7:05. It starts with the pregame show on 92.9 The Bull at 6:30.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blades earn hard fought win in Edmonton, Molleken earns win 500

The Saskatoon Blades finished off the sweep of their 2 game Alberta trip with a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings tonight.

The big win is also the 500th of Head Coach and GM Lorne Molleken's career. Congrats to him on that huge milestone.

The Blades got off to another quick start in the game with two goals in the first 6:31. The first came from Brayden Schenn, his 2nd as a Blade and 2nd in as many nights. Josh Nicholls added the other goal early, his 23rd of the year which leads the team.

Edmonton would put together a solid push back. Keegan Lowe scored with under 4 minutes left in the 1st period to make it 2-1 after 20. Just over the midpoint of period 2, Mark Pysyk evened the score with his 2nd of the season.

The Blades would regain the lead at 18:49 of that period with Darren Deitz scoring his 5th of the season.

There was some rough stuff as the 2nd period ended as Jordan Hickmott took a 5 minute major for boarding. He also received a game misconduct. Duncan Siemens and Cameron Abney both got 10 minute misconducts at that same time.

So the Blades had a 5 minute powerplay to start the third and try and extend their lead, but it was the Oil Kings scoring during that time. Travis Ewanyk scored his 8th of the year, shorthanded at 8:43 to tie the game at 3.

Saskatoon bounced back, regaining the lead at 7:28 when Marek Viedensky got his 22nd of the year.

That would be the game winner as Saskatoon survived a good push by Edmonton down the stretch.

Steven Stanford made 34 saves for the win.

The Blades move to 35-10-0-2 this year.

The game also featured a few fights.

In the second period Teigan Zahn fought Adrian Van de Mosselaer.

5 minutes later Travis Ewanyk fought Lukas Sutter.

Then 5 minutes later Klarc Wilson fought Dalton Thrower.

Coming up this weekend for Saskatoon, the Blades play a home and home with Swift Current. That starts on Friday night in Saskatoon.

Oilers and Blackhawks invade Saskatoon... September.

That was the big announcement here in Saskatoon today. The Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers will be playing an exhibition game at the Credit Union Centre next fall, on September 20th.

It's also interesting to note that it's the Blackhawks "hosting" the game, not the Oilers.

It's also the first time an original six team will make an appearance in the city of bridges.

Blades season ticket holders get the first crack at tickets, that will happen tomorrow. The other tickets will be available to the entire public on the 4th of February.

Tickets range in price from $37.50 to $97.50 plus service charges.

Blades dump Hitmen, now head to Edmonton

Last night the Saskatoon Blades walked into Calgary and completed a few-days-delayed home and home sweep.

After winning in Saskatoon 5-1 on Satuday, the Blades won 8-4 last night. That score doesn't really tell the tale of how well Saskatoon played with Calgary adding a couple late.

The Blades got goals from Stefan Elliott, Curtis Hamilton, Josh Nicholls, Brent Benson, 2 from Jake Trask and Brayden Schenn, his first as a Saskatoon Blade.

That goal from Schenn came on a deflection at 15:51 of the third period.

The top line of Hamilton-Schenn-Trask combined for 10 points. They were also a +9.

The Hitmen got goals from Kris Foucault, Nathan McMaster and 2 from Cody Sylvester.

Steven Stanford made 26 saves for the win, but he will be disappointed with how the game ended. Saskatoon gave up goals at 18:26 and 19:48 of the third period.

Putting the win aside, Saskatoon now heads to Edmonton for tonight's matchup with the Oil Kings. The game goes at 8:00 SK, with the pregame starting at 7:30 on 92.9 The Bull.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blades visit Hitmen

Saskatoon kicks off two games in two nights tonight in Calgary. It's a rematch of Saturday where the Blades knocked off the Hitmen 5-1.

Unfortunately I am not with the team in Alberta and will be forced to listen to the game like everyone else. It should be a fun one though.

As I have said many times already, the Hitmen didn't play as bad as the score showed on Saturday. They played a great opening 20 minutes and just failed to capitalize on some of their other great chances as that game went along.

If they bring that same compete level to tonight's game, things could end up going pretty good for them.

It will also be fun to hear how Brayden Schenn does in his 2nd game as a Blade. He had an assist in game one, and I would expect atleast that here tonight.

Steven Stanford goes in goal again as Adam Morrison remains in Saskatoon with an "illness".

Game time goes at 8:00 SK time, starting with the pre-game show at 7:30 on 92.9 The Bull.

Monday, January 24, 2011

WHLer suspended for using banned substance

19 year old Spencer Asuchak of the Prince George Cougars (a forward with 24 points in 42 games) has been suspended 8 games for testing positive for a substance banned by the CHL.

A December urine sample tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine.

It's a drug that has busted many athletes (mostly in rugby) in the past and can actually be found in some nasal decongestants. But, it has also been marketed in some countries as a dietary supplement with caffeine and other ingredients to be used as a stimulant.

Getting back to the hockey side of this equation, Asuchak is actually not the only CHL player to be suspended for using this substance.

Just 10 days ago Alex Aleardi (Plymouth) and Ryan O'Connor (Saginaw) were both suspended for testing positive for methylhexaneamine.

At that time CHL President David Branch said this "We are completely satisfied that the players used a supplement which they had purchased over the counter at a local retail outlet and had no knowledge that it contained a stimulant".

I would sure hope (and assume) that Asuchak was caught in the same situation as the two OHLers. It's unfortunate, but athletes at this level have to make sure they know what they are ingesting at all times.

Blades hit the road for Alberta

The Saskatoon Blades take their show on the road for a couple of nights this week.

But, that's after a little rest, relaxation and watching some hockey of their own. The team is in Calgary tonight and taking in the Flames and Predators from the Saddledome.

Then tomorrow night they take on the Hitmen on that very same Saddledome ice.

It should be an interesting matchup as Calgary will surely be looking for some revenge after Saturday night's defeat. That final was 5-1, but the Hitmen surely didn't play as bad as that score would suggest.

Then on Wednesday night the Blades continue their Western swing as they are in Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings, a team also battling for playoff positioning.

The Blades next home action comes Friday night, as they host the Swift Current Broncos for the 7th meeting of the teams already this year. The 8th game of the year will go the following night in Swift Current to finish off the season series.

All the Blades action in Alberta this week can be caught on 92.9 The Bull. I know I will be listening!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blades win in Schenn's debut

The biggest storyline of the game was the debut of hometown boy Brayden Schenn.

But, the Blades second line did a great job stealing all of his thunder.

The line of Chris Collins-Marek Viedensky-Josh Nicholls combined for 4 of the Blades 5 goals as they beat the Hitmen 5-1.

Calgary came out of the gates hot outshooting Saskatoon 15-7 through 20 minutes, and leading 1-0 after a goal from Brooks Macek.

Saskatoon got their legs back under them to start the second following a week long break. Chris Collins score on the powerplay at 1:24 to even the score.

At 9:07 Marek Viedensky put the Blades out in front as he hit an empty net after goalie Michael Snider was sent sprawling after being bumped by Josh Nicholls on a partial breakaway.

The Blades ended the 2nd period on a high with Jake Trask scoring to make it 3-1. Schenn had an assist on the goal, his first point as a Blade and 5th point in 3 WHL games this year.

The Blades kept the pedal to the metal in the third period with Viedensky and Collins each scoring again.

Josh Nicholls had 3 assists in the win, giving the top line 8 points in total in the game.

The Blades PK went 6 for 6 while their PP was 1 for 4.

Steven Stanford made 27 saves, including 14 in a very busy first period.

Saskatoon now has a pair of days off before playing the Hitmen again on Tuesday night in Calgary. They will enjoy the bus trip to Alberta tomorrow and take in the Flames-Predators game tomorrow night in Calgary. They also play in Edmonton on Wednesday night.

Other notes: Alex Elliott drew into the lineup after Levi Bews was scratched due to an expected case of pinkeye.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Schenn debuts as Blades host Hitmen

The Blades have had a week off and it's been just what the doctor ordered.

That time off has allowed newcomer Brayden Schenn to rest and rehab his shoulder that he hurt during his MVP performance at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Schenn will be in the lineup tonight as the Blades try and stop the Hitmen, a team who has won 2 games in a row.

Calgary won last night in Prince Albert by a score of 6-2.

Meanwhile, Saskatoon lost their last game. It was a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Swift Current, a loss that stalled their 11 game home winning streak.

Obviously the big storyline is Schenn and hopefully a big crowd turns out to see this one.

Here are my keys to the game:

For Calgary

- Keep up the strong road play. Statistically they are better on the road then they are at home this year. That comes with a simple gameplan, and executing it.

- Survive the first few minutes. The crowd is going to want some early fireworks, Calgary can’t let that happen. They need to hold Saskatoon scoreless as long as possible, and score first if they can.

- And contain the top line. Brayden Schenn might not be 100%, but he will still be tough to contain playing with Hamilton. Limit that combo’s damage.

For Saskatoon

- Have the defense jump into the play. Calgary will be focused on watching the forwards of the Blades, Saskatoon has to capitalize on some open looks by the defenders. Stefan Elliott, that means you.

- Stanford has to grab the reins. With Morrison out with mono, Stanford has to step his game up after being pulled a couple of times recently.

- And get the powerplay to click. Schenn should provide a new look to the unit, maybe he can light a fire beneath the powerplay which is the team’s biggest weakness.

Hopefully this game has a playoff buzz to it, despite Calgary being the last team in the entire WHL.

Puck drop goes at 7:05 from CUC. You can catch the game on 92.9 The Bull if you can't make it out. The broadcast starts with the pre-game show at 6:30.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blades goaltending situation gets a bit tricky

So, it sounds like goaltender Adam Morrison has mono.

He had been battling some kind of sickness for the last several days before tests came back yesterday confirming what he has.

Things get tricky for the time being as the team has called up Tyler Oswald to back up Steven Stanford.

That means the reins are firmly planted in the grasp of Stanford to take this team down the stretch run. A timeframe on mono is always up in the air, but it's safe to say that we won't see Morrison for atleast a few weeks.

I would assume that the team won't be starting Oswald in any games, barring injury. Is he the solution right now as the backup? Will his midget team want him away for a long time with the Blades?

All these questions are up in the air. But don't be surprised if the Blades run the backup goalie position by committee over the next couple of weeks.

One thing is clear, this situation is going to force Stanford to really dig down deep and find his game. Over the last couple of weeks Morrison had actually been playing better than Stanford, with Steven being pulled on more than one occasion.

But, he's a 20 year old. And that's why guys like him are on WHL rosters. To provide stability and leadership.

It's time for Steven to step up and show that he is this team's true #1.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lineup for Schenn's return

Is expected to be as follows:

Curtis Hamilton - Brayden Schenn - Jake Trask
Chris Collins - Marek Viedensky - Josh Nicholls
Darian Dziurzynski - Brent Benson - Matej Stransky
Lukas Sutter - Ryan Olsen - Levi Bews

EX - Alex Elliott

Duncan Siemens - Stefan Elliott
Teighan Zahn - Dalton Thrower (also returns from injury)
Connor Cox - Darren Deitz

EX - Tommy Stipancik

Steven Stanford
Adam Morrison

Schenn to make debut Saturday

Well, after much speculation it's now official.

Brayden Schenn will suit up for the Blades on Saturday.

Schenn has been recovering from a partially dislocated shoulder that he suffered during his MVP performance at the WJHC at the start of this month.

Schenn was acquired at the trade deadline from the Brandon Wheatkings in exchange for a large package including prospects Ayrton Nikkel and Tim McGauley.

The Blades are hosting Calgary on Saturday night. Game time goes at 7:05 from CUC. Get your tickets now!

Pats player has truck stolen

Interesting story here.

Living in Saskatchewan, it's always tempting to leave your car running in the winter. Especially on days like today, where it's -40 with the windchill. Yep, -40.

Blades drop one spot in CHL Rankings

Last week they were the 3rd best team in Canada.

This week they are 4th.

Saskatoon is 33-10-0-2 on the year, good enough to stay in the top 4 across the country.

The Blades flip-flopped spots with the Patrick Roy-led Quebec Remparts, who had been 4th the previous week.

The other two teams ahead of Saskatoon are the Saint John's Sea Dogs and the Mississauga St. Mike's Majors.

Two other WHL teams remain in the top 10. Kootenay at 7th place and Red Deer in 9th.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Team Orr wins big!

Team Orr hit the board first over Team Cherry at the CHL Top Prospects game, and never really looked back.

Daniel Catenacci scored short handed at 11:56 of the first period, using his blazing speed to streak down the wing and go five hole on Chris Gibson.

That was the only scoring in the first period.

The 2nd period was full of action with 3 goals scored.

Team Orr got goals from Sven Bartschi and Jonathan Huberdeau. Team Cherry got on the board with a goal from Shane Prince. The score was 3-1 after 2.

Team Orr kept the pedal to the metal in period 3, adding 4 more goals. Those came from Nathan Beaulieu, Zack Phillips, Vince Trocheck and Dougie Hamilton.

The final score was 7-1.

Players of the game were:

Ryan Murphy for Team Cherry

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Team Orr

I think it's safe to say Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finally got his national exposure that he has deserved. WHL followers have been singing this kid's praises for 2 years now. Hopefully this game helps raise his profile. He carried the play for long stretches and finished with a pair of assists. The first one was on a 2 on 1 where he sent a perfect saucer pass to Sven Bartschi. I don't think his 164 pound weight will be a concern for NHL teams come June.

There was one fight in the game. Duncan Siemens laid a massive hit on Sven Bartschi and RNH started shoving Siemens. Siemens shoved the two players before Musil jumped in and took on Siemens. Neither landed any huge punches, more of a draw. But, I did call it. Siemens did fight.

Other players who looked strong:

- Ryan Strome - Made some nice moves and showed off his great speed and hands.

- Joe Morrow - A solid 2 way defenseman made a good impression.

- Reece Scarlett - Finally some exposure for the Swift Current Bronco.

- David Musil - Quiet, effective and fought a tough customer.

- Duncan Siemens - Showed why scouts are drooling over him.

- Daniel Catenacci - Great speed for this kid. Could be a mid-1st round pick.

- Jonathan Huberdeau - Dominated the 2nd period.

- Nathan Beaulieu - Got better as the game went along.

- Dougie Hamilton - Two-way tower of power.

- Liam Liston - 18 saves on 18 shots.

CHL Top Prospects Game Is Upon Us

This is a date I have been looking forward to since the middle of November, if not earlier.

Tonight is going to be the only time this group of top NHL prospects will have a chance to play with and against one another before the draft this June. It should be great to see how it plays out, and to see which junior star's shine.

Here are 5 things that I am looking forward to from tonight's game:

5. Physicality

- This isn't your normal "All-Star" format type of game. Each one of these kids is going to be giving it their best to try and show the hundreds of scouts/team personnel watching that they are top 10 material. That normally translates into some huge hits and some solid fights.

Last year it was Dylan McIlrath dropping Alex Petrovic in a battle of WHL defenseman.

Will their be a fight this year? I would hope so. And don't be surprised if Duncan Siemens of the Saskatoon Blades is in the middle of some of the rough stuff after whistles. The kid plays with a massive chip on his shoulder.

4. Who shines most offensively?

- It's a game that is packed with talent. But who will be the one to jump out and lead the game offensively? It's always interesting to see. Will it be a top prospect like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Or will it be a lesser known player like Zack Phillips or Swede Richard Rakell?

Time will tell, but the opportunity is definitely their for a player to jump out and steal a headline.

3. Ryan Strome and Jonathan Huberdeau

- These are two guys that I haven't seen a ton of, but they are climbing draft charts quicker then anybody.

Strome has been lighting up the Ontario Hockey League, and Huberdeau has been doing the same in Quebec. It will be fun to watch these two players go head to head, as they are playing on opposite teams.

I'm not too sure about line combo's for everyone, but I know Strome will be in a great position to put up some numbers. He is going to be starting the game with Ty Rattie of Portland and Nicklas Jensen of Oshawa. Watch out for that line.

2. Duncan Siemens vs. Dougie Hamilton

- After Adam Larsson, these two guys could be the next defenseman taken in the June draft (Ryan Murphy too). But the comparisons have been made all year between these guys and fans have had much to say over which guy will be taken first.

It should be fun to see which big defender has a better night.

They are both big (roughly 6'3 each) and both are known for great skating ability. But that's about where the comparisons end.

Siemens is left handed. Hamilton is right handed. Siemens is known as a defense-first kind of player. Hamilton is known for jumping up into the play a bit more. But it should still be fun to see which guy looks better on the ice tonight.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins vs. Sean Couturier

- Both player's have been tagged as "the potential #1 pick". So, it's very fitting that they are the captains for their respective teams.

The two centreman will definitely have a chance to go head to head in tonight's game and it will be fun to see who get's the best of the other.

Couturier is riding high, having made Team Canada for the WJHC, something Nugent-Hopkins never did.

Both are and will be fantastic players down the road, but I am very interested to see who wins tonight's showdown between them.

Game time goes at 7 PM Eastern (6pm SK) on Rogers Sportsnet.

For those who haven't seen them, here are the rosters:

Team Cherry (Red)

Forwards (12):
Sean Couturier, Drummondville Voltigeurs
Phillip Danault, Victoriaville Tigres
Nicklas Jensen, Oshawa Generals
Tomas Jurco, Saint John Sea Dogs
Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener Rangers * replaced by Shane Prince, Ottawa 67's
Mark McNeill, Prince Albert Raiders
Matthew Puempel, Peterborough Petes
Rickard Rakell, Plymouth Whalers
Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks
Tobias Rieder, Kitchener Rangers
Mark Scheifele, Barrie Colts
Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs

Defencemen (6):
Myles Bell, Regina Pats
Scott Harrington, London Knights
Joe Morrow, Portland Winterhawks
Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers
Duncan Siemens, Saskatoon Blades
Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland Winterhawks

Goaltenders (2):
Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
David Honzik, Victoriaville Tigres

Team Orr (White)

Forwards (12):
Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks
Daniel Catenacci, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs
Colin Jacobs, Seattle Thunderbirds
Boone Jenner, Oshawa Generals
Lucas Lessio, Oshawa Generals
Shane McColgan, Kelowna Rockets
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels
Zack Phillips, Saint John Sea Dogs
Brandon Saad, Saginaw Spirit
Vincent Trocheck, Saginaw Spirit

Defencemen (6):
Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John Sea Dogs
Dougie Hamilton, Niagara IceDogs
David Musil, Vancouver Giants
Xavier Ouellet, Montreal Juniors
Stuart Percy, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Reece Scarlett, Swift Current Broncos

Goaltenders (2):
Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack
Liam Liston, Brandon Wheat Kings

Top Prospect's Skills Recap

Here are the results from Toronto from the CHL Top Prospects Skills Competition.

Fastest Skater:

Daniel Catenacci won the event with a time just over 14 seconds. Tobias Rieder and Ryan Murphy were close, coming in 2nd and 3rd.

Dougie Hamilton blew a tire, and came in last.

Hardest Shot:

Myles Bell of Regina blew the competition away with shots of 98 mph and 97 mph.

Shooting Accuracy

Matt Puempel won the event. The 2009-2010 OHL rookie of the year nailed 4 targets in 5 shots. Shane Prince was 2nd.

Breakaway Contest:

Sven Bartschi of the Portland Winterhawks had one of the nicer moves of the event. It was a one handed attempt with his stick between his legs.

Tomas Jurco won the event overall.

Some highlights of some of the players moves:

Sorry for the screen stretching.

For the full video recap, visit here:

The big game goes tomorrow night from Toronto. I will be glued to the TV.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big name prospects show off big time skills

Tonight's the start of a very exciting 2 day event for those who follow NHL prospects.

It's the kickoff event to the Top Prospects Game, the skills competition. Tonight's festivities have been split into 4 different categories:

Fastest skater, Hardest Shot, Shooting Accuracy and a Breakaway Contest.

Following that the teams will also play a 3 on 3 game.

Here is how the contests break down:

Skill 1 – Fastest Skater

Team Orr:

Dougie Hamilton, Niagara IceDogs

Shane McColgan, Kelowna Rockets

Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John Sea Dogs

Daniel Catenacci, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Team Cherry:

Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers

Mark McNeill, Prince Albert Raiders

Tobias Rieder, Kitchener Rangers

Rickard Rakell, Plymouth Whalers

My prediction: Shane McColgan from Team Orr. Tobias Rieder from Team Cherry.

Skill 2 – Hardest Shot

Team Orr:

David Musil, Vancouver Giants

Stuart Percy, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors

Vincent Trocheck, Saginaw Spirit

Reece Scarlett, Swift Current Broncos

Team Cherry:

Myles Bell, Regina Pats

Scott Harrington, London Knights

Duncan Siemens, Saskatoon Blades

Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland Winterhawks

My prediction: David Musil from Team Orr. Scott Harrington from Team Cherry.

Skill 3 – Shooting Accuracy

Team Orr:

Lucas Lessio, Oshawa Generals

Zack Phillips, Saint John Sea Dogs

Boone Jenner, Oshawa Generals

Colin Jacobs, Seattle Thunderbirds

Team Cherry:

Sean Couturier, Drummondville Voltigeurs

Matthew Puempel, Peterborough Petes

Shane Prince, Ottawa 67’s

Phillip Danault, Victoriaville Tigres

My prediction: Lucas Lessio from Team Orr. Matt Puempel from Team Cherry.

Skill 4 – Show-Down Breakaway Contest

Team Orr:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels

Brandon Saad, Saginaw Spirit

Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks

Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights

Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs

Xavier Ouellet, Montreal Juniors

Team Cherry:

Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks

Tomas Jurco, Saint John Sea Dogs

Nicklas Jensen, Oshawa Generals

Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs

Mark Scheifele, Barrie Colts

Joe Morrow, Portland Winterhawks

My Prediction: Jonathan Huberdeau from Team Orr. Ty Rattie from Team Cherry.


Team Orr:

Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack

Liam Liston, Brandon Wheat Kings

Team Cherry:

Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi Sagueneens

David Honzik, Victoriaville Tigres

Best goalies: Jordan Binnington from Team Orr. Chris Gibson from Team Cherry.

Unfortunately, I can't find details anywhere online, confirming that this event tonight will be televised. Either way, it's scheduled to kick off at 7pm ET and it should be interesting to see which contestants shine the most.

Tomorrow night is the game featuring all 40 prospects. That is the big ticket event.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blades don't get the bounces, fall to Broncos

It was a tough game to handicap, as Saskatoon carried the vast majority of the play, but just couldn't get the puck into the net.

I can't count how many pucks bounced sticks or how many open nets were missed by the Blades.

The final was 3-2 for Swift Current.

The Blades got goals from Darian Dziurzysnki and Stefan Elliott. For Z, he regained the team lead with his 22nd of the season. Elliott's goal was his 20th of the year.

The Broncos had markers from Adam Lowry, Taylor Vause and Dillon Wagner.

Once again for the Blades goaltending was an issue. Starter Adam Morrison was lifted after 2 periods after allowing a couple of questionable goals. His replacement Steven Stanford was perfect the rest of the way.

Mark Friesen made 29 saves for the win.

It was a strong crowd at CUC as it was minor hockey night. The attendance was 8487.

The Blades now have a week off until their next game. That goes Saturday night at home against Calgary.

That game is expected to be the debut of newly acquired forward Brayden Schenn.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blades score early and often as they dump Broncos

An early goal by Darian Dziurzynski seemed to set the tone for the Saskatoon Blades tonight.

If nothing else, it would have been a welcome sight for the Blades. Saskatoon threw 62 shots on goal last time out against Regina, but still fell in a shootout to the Pats.

Dziurzynski's 20th of the season came at 1:57 of the game, the first of three goals for Saskatoon in the first period. The others came from Josh Nicholls (21) and Marek Viedensky (19).

But, credit to the Broncos, they came out strong in the second. In fact, they got two quick goals to start the period from Andy Blanke at 1:19 and Stepan Novotny at 2:13.

Those two quick goals chased starter Steven Stanford from the Blade goal.

Chris Collins provided a big boost for Saskatoon, giving them a 4-2 lead at 5:57 of the second period with his 10th of the year.

That proved to be the extra cushion the Blades needed, as the Broncos never got on the board again.

Darian Dziurzynski iced the game nearly midway through the third, with his second of the night and 21st of the season to make the final 5-2.

Adam Morrison was perfect in relief for the Blades to get the win. Mark Friesen had 29 saves in the loss.

The teams have a rematch scheduled for tomorrow night in Saskatoon. That game goes at 7:05 at CUC. You can catch it starting with the pre-game show at 6:30 on 92.9 The Bull.

Blades start home and home with Broncos

The Saskatoon Blades are set to tangle with another member of their division in a home and home, this time, it's the Swift Current Broncos who pose the challenge.

Tonight's game goes from Swift Current, a place where the Broncos beat the Blades 4-2 on January 2nd.

The Broncos will have a new look to them tonight as well, having traded star forward Cody Eakin a day before the WHL trade deadline on the 10th.

It's also a busy night elsewhere in the league as all 22 teams hit the ice.

These two teams will also meet again tomorrow night, at CUC in Saskatoon.

Gametime goes at 7:00 tonight from Swift Current. You can catch the broadcast starting at 6:30 on 92.9 The Bull.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blades jump up a spot to 3rd best in the country

The new CHL ranking list came out yesterday, and the Blades have moved up a spot to 3rd overall.

Last week they were ranked 4th.

They have a record now of 32-9-0-2 on the year.

There are two other WHL teams on the list. Portland is 7th and Kootenay is 9th.

The only two teams ahead of the Blades are the Saint John Sea Dogs who are 34-5-0-2 on the season. The Memorial Cup host Mississauga St. Michael's Majors are 2nd overall with a record of 30-7-0-1.

So the Blades are the 3rd best country as it stands right now. How will that change when they add (arguably) the best player in all of junior hockey to their lineup in Brayden Schenn?

It should be fun to find out.

Blades fall in Regina in a shootout

It was a shooting gallery last night in the provincial capital.

Luckily for the Pats, goaltender Matt Hewitt did a fine job acting as a target.

The 18 year old goaltender made 59 saves on 62 shot as his team found a way to hang on and beat the Blades 4-3 in a shootout.

The Pats opened the scoring at 3:09 as Lyndon Martell crashed the crease and banged a puck past Adam Morrison.

That lead was doubled to 2-0 at 10:41 as Garrett Mitchell scored on the powerplay for the Pats.

The Blades had outshot Regina 22-13 in the first period, but couldn't find the back of the net.

Finally they got on the board at 6:26 of the 2nd period as Lukas Sutter got his 4th goal of the season to cut the lead in half.

The score was 2-1 after two, the shots were 41-19 at that point.

A frustrated Blades team finally evened things up as defenseman Stefan Elliott got his 19th goal of the year at 2:53 of the third period.

But it didn't take long for the Pats to answer back and regain the lead. Assistant captain Art Bidlevski scored his first of the season at 6:15 as it was back to the drawing board for the Blades.

But, shortly after scoring the go ahead goal, Bidlevski was whistled for a trip and was sent to the box for 2 minutes or less. Marek Viedensky picked up the puck on the half boards, walked to the middle of the ice near the top of the circle on his off wing and ripped a wrister on net. Hewitt got his glove on it, but not all of it as it went through his glove, up and over him and into the net.

The game was tied once again.

Neither team scored in the overtime frame, that despite a very good chance for the Blades. Shayne Neigum drilled Teigan Zahn into the boards from behind in the Blades end, which allowed the Blades a 4 minute PP chance in OT as they skated 4 on 3.

The Blades had 4 shots in overtime, but once again they couldn't beat Hewitt.

So the game came down to a shootout.

Jake Trask went first for Saskatoon and scored.

Jordan Weal went for Regina and made it look too easy, evening the score.

Matej Stransky went for Saskatoon and couldn't beat Hewittt.

Colin Reddin was stopped for Regina.

Marek Viedensky slipped it five hole on Hewitt to put the Blades ahead.

Shayne Neigum needed to score, and did, tying the shootout at 2.

Ryan Olsen shot next for Saskatoon and fired it high and wide.

Captain Garrett Mitchell had a chance to win it for the Pats, and deked from backhand to forehand and slid it past Adam Morrison for the win.

It was a frustrating loss for the Blades, who definitely dominated the game and deserved the win.

The shots ended up being 62-33 in favor of the Blades.

The reffing was also an adventure, to say the least.

In the third period Brent Benson was hauled down on a partial breakaway. He slid into the goalie as the puck ended up in the net. The goal never counted, there was no penalty shot, there was no penalty AND the faceoff came outside the zone.

Neigum's hit from behind on Zahn could have definitely been a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. As it turned out, Neigum was allowed to stay in the game and had a huge shootout goal.

Either way, it was a tough pill to swallow.

Up next for the Blades a home and home with the Broncos on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blades travel to provincial capital

The Saskatoon Blades take their number one ranked road record with them as they take on the Pats in Regina tonight.

The Blades are coming off a 5-4 shootout win over Brandon last night. A win that saw them get caught behind the 8 ball in the third period, allowing the Wheatkings back into the game. (Saskatoon blew a 4-1 lead after 2 periods)

Saskatoon is going to have to stay mentally sharp in tonight's game to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Regina lost their last game, 7-1 in Edmonton on Saturday. You know they will be hungry for this one after having to sit on a loss like that for a number of days.

Last time here, the Blades scored first, but lost 5-2. Overall the season series is even at one game a piece as the Blades won on home ice at the start of October 6-2.

Here are the keys to tonight's game:

For Regina

- Come out aggressive. The Pats were embarrassed last time out 7-1 and have had a number of days to sit and think about that. Translate that into a good aggressive game and specifically, a good start.

- Protect the slot area. They have allowed more goals then any other team in the WHL (179), they can’t be giving away solid chances from key areas.

- And score in transition. We saw the Blades get caught standing around last night as Brandon came at them with speed. Regina needs to try and exploit that, mainly with their key weapon of Jordan Weal.

For Saskatoon

- Be the first team to score. They are now 22-2 when scoring first in hockey games after the win last night against Brandon.

- Watch Myles Bell. The 17 year old defenseman likes to jump into the rush and put the puck on net. He is 3rd in goals for defenseman in the league as well, with 11.

- And find road powerplay success. The results have been night and day when comparing the road PP to home ice. Quick puck movement is key.

The game goes at 7:00 from Regina. You can listen to the game live on 92.9 The Bull, starting with the pregame show at 6:30.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blades outlast Wheatkings

Saskatoon showed that they were the better team through 40 minutes, then the Wheatkings decided to play some hockey.

The Blades led 4-1 through 40 minutes in tonight's hockey game.

They got goals from Darren Dietz (3), Ryan Olsen (5), Josh Nicholls (20) and Marek Viedensky (17) with Brandon getting a goal from David Toews (10).

The game looked firmly in hand, and the Blades looked like a confident bunch. But, all the credit in the world to the Wheaties as they stormed back.

At 6:38 of the third period Scott Glennie finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with his 17th goal of the season to cut the lead to 4-2. Michael Ferland got his 19th of the year only 22 seconds later off a wrap around.

The comeback was complete only 3 minutes and 24 seconds later as Brendan Walker scored his 15th of the year from a terrible angle as he was streaking down the right side near the boards.

That would be the end of the night for Blades goalie Steven Stanford, who got the hook in favour of Adam Morrison.

Neither team capitalized down the stretch or in overtime and the game went to a shootout.

Jake Trask shot first for the Blades and scored on a beautiful move, faking backhand and going forehand past Corbin Boes.

All of the following 5 shooters failed to beat the goalies and the Blades snuck away as 5-4 winners.

Saskatoon native Corbin Boes was a massive story in the game. He was roughed up early in the game but he truly was the reason why the Wheaties got a point in the game. He made several massive saves in the game on point blank chances that would have put the game on ice. A solid performance from the 17 year old.

With that being said, Adam Morrison deserves some credit. He came in cold and made a few saves down the stretch in the third period, overtime and 3 nice saves in the shootout to earn the win.

Both teams are back in action tomorrow night. Brandon visits PA, while the Blades take to the road and head to Regina for the 2nd time this year.

Trade partners collide as Brandon visit Saskatoon

Yesterday these two teams completed one of the biggest trades in WHL history, and tonight they meet on the ice at Credit Union Centre.

Unfortunately for the fans, none of the players traded yesterday will be in the game tonight. (Schenn for Saskatoon, Nikkel + McGauley for Brandon).

That shouldn't stop this game from being very interesting and fun to watch though.

The Blades are coming off two wins in a row, 5-0 over Calgary and 5-1 in Prince Albert. Meanwhile the Wheatkings earned 3 out of 4 points in 2 games this weekend. They beat Calgary 9-2 on Friday night and followed that up with a 3-2 shootout loss in Prince Albert on Saturday.

Here are my keys to the game:

For Brandon

- Capitalize on the powerplay. The Blades PK is climbing in the league rankings, scoring on the powerplay will be huge for Brandon and to make sure they don't miss out on those chances.

- Try and keep it low scoring. Brandon is last in the league on the road, they can’t have this game turn into a run and gun affair.

- And Corbin Boes needs to be big in goal. He doesn’t have to steal a game, he just can’t be the one to lose it.

For Saskatoon

- Get off to a quick start. Yesterday was a hectic day around here, Saskatoon has to put the big trade distractions in the back of their minds and get in the game early.

- Have a strong performance from the top line. Curtis Hamilton returns tonight for the first time since the World Juniors, and re-unites with his old linemates in Marek Viedensky and Josh Nicholls.

- And stay disciplined. Brandon can beat you on the powerplay, they can’t take careless penalties, especially in the offensive zone.

The game goes at 7:05 tonight from CUC. You can also listen live on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pregame show at 6:30.

Blades re-assign Braeden Johnson

After adding two players at the WHL trade deadline yesterday and not losing anyone off their roster in those deals, it was clear someone was going to be the odd man out for the Saskatoon Blades.

It turns out to be winger and Saskatoon native Braeden Johnson.

He was reassigned to the Kindersley Klippers of the SJHL, who then traded his rights to the Battlefords North Stars last night. It sounds as if he will be reporting there and is happy to be joining them, in what will definitely be an increased role.

The 18 year old had 3 goals and 5 assists and was a -3 in his 28 games with Saskatoon this season.

WHL Trade Deadline Recap

It was a busy day today in regards to deadline day in the WHL, even if it wasn't quite as busy as last year's deadline.

But, here's a brief recap of everything that went down: (in order)

- D Ryan Button (19) traded to Seattle from Prince Albert. Raiders receive FW Charles Wells (19) and 1st round pick in 2011 import draft.

This deal was the first of the day, and might be one of the most interesting. For Seattle, it's clear they needed some defensive help as they have left Calvin Pickard high and dry far too many times this year. Meanwhile, the Raiders get a 19 year old forward with good offensive abilities, as well as a solid pick in return. I also think that Wells has a good chance of returning next year as a 20 year old and that is the key idea for the Raiders, while Button is surely going to turn pro.

- FW Brayden Schenn (19), 3rd round bantam pick in 2012 to Saskatoon from Brandon. Wheatkings receive FW Tim McGauley (15), D Ayrton Nikkel (15), 1st round pick in 2011, 2nd round pick in 2011, 1st round pick in 2012 and 1st round pick in 2012 import draft.

Talk about a steep price. It's the most expensive deal so far of the WHL season as the Blades moved their two top prospects, as well as a number of solid picks in order to get the WJHC MVP. But, that price won't mean as much if Schenn is the guy to officially put the Blades over the top and into the winner's circle. Expect him to skate on a line with Curtis Hamilton and Josh Nicholls once he returns from nursing a dislocated shoulder in 7-10 days.

- FW Sebastian Svendsen (19) to Moose Jaw from Prince Albert. Raiders receive FW Michal Hlinka (17), 3rd round pick in 2011, 6th round pick in 2011.

I really like this deal for the Raiders. They gave up a small and dynamic player in Svendsen, but I really like what I have seen out of Hlinka this year. He doesn't have great point totals to show so far, but the 17 year old has a big body and lots of time to grow into that body. He could be a key player for the Raiders in the future. But, the move does make the Warriors that much better on the spot.

- D Mitch Spooner (18) to Seattle from Regina. Pats get a conditional 5th round pick in 2012.

One of the smaller deals of the day. Not much to say as Spooner had left the Pats in November. Will be interesting to see if the Port Moody, BC native chooses to report to Seattle. If not, I would imagine the Pats don't receive the pick, which is of course, conditional.

- D Tanner Sohn (19) to Saskatoon from Vancouver. Giants receive a 10th round pick in 2013 bantam draft.

Blades add a depth defenseman that could see ice time should injuries rear their ugly faces down the stretch. Sohn is a former Blade and knows the city and the team. Lorne Molleken says he should be a good fit for the team, has a good work ethic and can fill a roll, should it be needed.

- D Branden Scheidl (15) to Lethbridge from Portland. Hurricanes receive FW Ryley Bennefield (16).

- D Matt Mackenzie (19) to Tri City from Calgary. Hitmen receive FW Brooks Macek (18), D Spencer Humphries (18) and conditional 3rd round pick in 2012.

I really like this trade for the Americans. Mackenzie is a very very solid two way hockey player who makes a good strong first pass and plays mean. The Americans could very well do some damage down the stretch, and to do so they needed to add another big tough player. Mackenzie does exactly that.

- FW Kellan Tochkin (19) and D Alex Theriau (18) to Medicine Hat from Everett. Silvertips receive FW Ryan Harrison (18) and 2nd round pick in 2011.

Medicine Hat was left in a position of needing to make an addition to keep up as teams around them loaded up at the deadline. I like this deal for them. It's not overly expensive, but should keep them competitive. Let's face it, as teams like Kootenay and Saskatoon made additions, Medicine Hat needed to do something. On the other side of the coin, it seems almost as if the Silvertips are waving the white flag here. They are sitting just outside of a playoff spot in the West, in 9th place. But they are only 2 points out. Doesn't send a great message to a fanbase, that's for sure.

Overall it was an interesting and exciting day for WHL fans. It will be interesting to see how these changes to some of the teams effect the standings the rest of the way. Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Blades not done shopping, add defenseman from Vancouver

Saskatoon Blades Head Coach and GM Lorne Molleken continued to add pieces to the puzzle following the acquisition of Brayden Schenn this morning.

The Blades sent a 2013 10th round bantam pick to Vancouver in exchange for Tanner Sohn, a former Saskatoon Blade.

Sohn is 6'1 defenseman from Medicine Hat, Alberta. In 31 games this season with the Giants he has registered 6 assists with 20 penalty minutes and a -6.

He is 1991-born.

He will add more depth to the Saskatoon blueline that currently includes a couple of question marks. Dalton Thrower is currently out with a concussion and is expected to be sidelined for atleast the next 10-14 days.

Tommy Stipancik is also set to play his first game with the team, but hasn't played in game action in months following a battle with post-concussion symptoms.

Sohn should provide an extra depth body on the blueline as the team looks to push deeper into the playoffs then ever before.

Schenn is now officially coming home

After a ton of twitter commotion and false reporting yesterday, the big trade has finally happened.

Saskatoon-native Brayden Schenn has been traded to his hometown Saskatoon Blades.

Twitter exploded last night after people jumped on a false report, claiming the deal had been completed. The deal was denied by both the Brandon Wheat Kings and Saskatoon Blades.

But it officially happened this morning.

In return, the Wheat Kings get 15 year old forward Tim McGauley and 15 year old defenseman Ayrton Nikkel. They were the Blades first two draft picks in the 2010 Bantam draft.

Brandon also receives a number of high bantam draft picks in the deal. They are getting the Blades 1st in 2011, 2nd in 2011, 1st in 2012 and a 1st in the Import Draft in 2012.

The Blades also receive a 2012 3rd round pick in the bantam draft.

Schenn is currently out after suffering a grade one separation of his shoulder during the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo. That was an injury that he played with during the tournament. Despite the injury he was still named the top forward at the event.

It is expected to sideline him for the next 7-10 days.

Schenn started this season in the NHL, with the Los Angeles Kings. He was on the bubble as to whether or not he would make the team. In 8 games with LA, he had 2 assists.

As the Kings were deciding on whether or not to keep him up, they sent him to the American Hockey League to play for Manchester. In 7 games at the AHL level, he had 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points.

After that, the Kings decided to send him back to junior. He played in two games with Brandon before the World Junior tournament, registering 1 goal and 3 assists.

At the WJHC in Buffalo, Schenn had 18 points in 7 games and as mentioned, was named the tournaments MVP.

It was a steep price for the Saskatoon Blades to pay, giving up their two best prospects, and several high draft picks. But, that's the price you have to pay to try and push this team over the top.

The Blades have shown already this year that they are the cream of the crop and that they can beat any team in the league. But now how will they look after adding the top player available at the trade deadline?

We will find out sooner, rather than later.

Stefan Elliott named WHL Player of the Week

Despite only playing in two games this week, the Blades star defenseman still did enough to be named the leagues top player.

Elliott had 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points in those two games. He was also a +7 as Saskatoon went 2-0-0-0.

On January 4th, Elliott had a goal and 3 assists and was named the first star of the game as the Blades shutout the Calgary Hitmen 5-0. It was also Elliott's 250th career WHL game.

On the 7th, the Blades won in Prince Albert 5-1, with Elliott getting a goal and an assist.

He now has 44 points in 40 games and is first in defensive scoring in the WHL.

Red Deer Rebels goalie and Saskatoon-native Darcy Kuemper was named CHL goalie of the week. Kuemper posted a 1-0-0-1 record this past week, stopping 50 of 52 shots faced for a 0.960 goals-against average and a 0.962 save percentage.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Blades make the biggest splash, acquire Brayden Schenn?

Is it true?

The Saskatoon boy is coming home?

The Blades have reportedly acquired 19 year old forward Brayden Schenn from the Brandon Wheat Kings according to several sources, including TSN.

No word yet on what the Wheat Kings receive in return if the deal actually goes down.


The deal appears to be not official yet. That doesn't mean something won't happen in the next 12-18 hours leading up to the deadline.

The First Big Domino is Eakin to Kootenay

With the WHL trade deadline 24 hours away, the first big name has been moved.

The Swift Current Broncos have traded star forward Cody Eakin to the Kootenay Ice for a total of 8 players.

The package is:

18-year-old Forward Christian Magnus and prospects Ryan Bloom (1993 Forward- Drumheller Dragons – AJHL), Jarett Zentner (1993 Forward - Calgary Mustangs – AJHL), Colby Cave (1994 Forward - Battleford Stars – SMAAAHL) and Steven Myland (1994 Goaltender - Valley West Hawks – BCMMHL) along with a first and second round draft pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft and a third round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

We will see what this does for the market as it is pretty clear right now that the price for teams looking to buy is going to be sky high.

If that's how much Eakin goes for, then how much are teams going to have to pay to get Brayden Schenn out of Brandon?

Sunday WHL trade

It's not one of the big dominoes expected to fall today or tomorrow in regards to the WHL trade deadline, but it is news worthy.

The Vancouver Giants have traded Mark Reners to the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Giants receive a 5th round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.

Looks like the Oil Kings are happy to add an Alberta-born forward, and some more depth as they continue to push for a very important playoff spot for their franchise.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bourhis suspended for hit on Lukas Sutter

Prince Albert Raiders forward Austin Bourhis has been suspended 1 game for a hit on Lukas Sutter in last night's matchup between the Blades and Raiders.

It came at the very end of the hockey game that the Blades won 5-1.

Sutter was waiting in the slot for a pass and Bourhis hit him hard, from behind, while Sutter never had the puck.

Bourhis was given a 5 minute major for interference and a game misconduct. He missed the Raiders game tonight against Brandon while serving the suspension.

It's also the 2nd suspension in less than a week for Bourhis. He was suspended 1 game for a charge against the Pats on January 1st.

Blades win big in Prince Albert

The Saskatoon Blades played one of their most complete games of the season tonight in Prince Albert as they dumped the Raiders 5-1.

They also got contributions from all over the lineup.

Saskatoon led 1-0 after 20 minutes off of a goal by 17 year old rookie Alex Elliott. Elliott also got into a fight in the period, taking on Brock Balson.

Saskatoon added 2 more goals in the 2nd period. Darren Dietz and Jake Trask notched those. The Dietz goal was one of the prettier goals I have seen live and in person after Marek Viedensky dragged the puck between his legs before sending the cross-crease pass to Dietz for the tap in past Jamie Tucker.

Instead of playing back in the third, Saskatoon kept at the Raiders, adding 2 more goals. They were both unassisted, the first from Stefan Elliott, the second from Ryan Olsen.

Steven Stanford's shutout bid was ended with just under 3 minutes to play as Mark McNeill got his 17th goal of the year.

Stanford had 25 saves in the win, Tucker made 45 saves in the loss. Special teams wasn't a big factor as the teams combined to go 0 for 7.

Next up on the Blades agenda, the Brandon Wheat Kings visit CUC on Tuesday. But, before that, the WHL trade deadline on Monday.

Will Brayden Schenn be a member of the Blades by the time 4 o'clock rolls around on Monday?

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes down.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Blades hit the road for Prince Albert

The Saskatoon Blades look to win their 6th game of the year in 7 tries against the Prince Albert Raiders tonight.

It should be an interesting test because the Art Hauser Centre is a very tough place to play, and the Raiders are coming off a very big win for themselves.

Both teams last played on Tuesday of this week with Saskatoon shutting out Calgary 5-0 and Prince Albert earning a massive comeback win in Brandon 6-5. In that game the Raiders scored two goals in the final 40 seconds to jump out in front and get the win.

Both teams will have more reinforcements in their lineups as 4 players have returned from the World Under 17 Challenge in Manitoba. For Saskatoon, Ryan Olsen and Levi Bews. For Prince Albert, Mike Winther and Shane Danyluk. All 4 played on the same team at the event, Team Pacific. Congrats to them on a Bronze Medal.

Curtis Hamilton is back with the Blades after winning a silver medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, but it sounds like he will be held out of the lineup to rest.

With that being said, here are my keys to the game:

For Prince Albert

- Get off to a good start. It will be a huge benefit to capitalize on a scoring chance early and get that ever important first goal. The Raiders always seem to get a good scoring chance early in a game at home when the Blades are visiting.

- Stay disciplined. The Raiders have struggled mightily on special teams this year, they don’t want to spend a ton of time in this game in a special teams battle.

For Saskatoon

- Stop Brandon Herrod. He has 8 goals in 6 games against the Blades so far this year and has 50% of his teams goals against the Blades this year.

- Continue to get balanced offense. The team is 2nd in the league in goals and have 5 players with 15 goals or more.

Tonight could be the last time we see the current Blades lineup as is. The trade deadline is quickly approaching (Monday) and many teams in the league are looking to stock up for the playoff push.

Are the Blades one of those teams? More than likely. It will be interesting to see what GM/Head Coach Lorne Molleken decides to do.

Game time tonight goes at 7:00 from PA. You can hear the game live on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pre-game show at 6:30.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blades now ranked 4th in the country

A strong start to 2011 has the Saskatoon Blades up to the 4th ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League.

A record of 30-9-0-1 leaves Saskatoon with the 3rd most wins of any teams from the WHL, OHL or QMJHL.

Saskatoon moved up from 6th in the BMO CHL rankings to 4th. They only sit behind the Quebec Remparts, Mississauga St. Mike's Majors and the Saint John Sea Dogs (who are 1st).

Two other WHL clubs sit in the top 10 of the rankings. Portland is 7th and Kootenay is 9th.

The Blades next action goes tomorrow night in Prince Albert. They take on the Raiders on the road for the 2nd time in 9 days.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Team Canada suffers heartbreak

It looked like a game that was all but over, and Team Canada took their foot off the gas against Russia at the World Juniors.

The Canadians took a 3 goal lead into the third period in Buffalo.

But Russia was quick to cut into that. 2:33 into the period Artemi Panarin got Russia on the board. Only 11 seconds later Russia scored again, this time it was Maxim Kitsyn.

Just like that the lead was down to 1.

At 7:29 the comeback would be complete as Vladimir Tarasenko fired a one timer past Mark Visentin to tie the game at 3.

At 15:22 Russia would go out ahead for good as Artemi Panarin got his 2nd of the period to push Russia into the lead 4-3.

Canada did their best to try to push the puck up the ice, but the momentum was firmly with the Russians. The offensive push by Canada cost them in the end as Nikita Dvurechensky cut down the ice on an odd man rush and beat Visentin five hole to make it 5-3 at 18:44.

That would be the final.

Heartbreak for Canada.

The Canadians got goals from Ryan Ellis, Carter Ashton and Brayden Schenn.

It's Russia's first gold medal since 2002. Canada ended up with silver for the 2nd straight year. They will have a chance at revenge next year as the tournament is back on Canadian soil in Calgary and Edmonton.

Congratulations to Russia. They deserve all the credit in the world as they kept pushing and it led to 5 unanswered goals.

The big finale

Coming into the tournament it was obvious Team Canada was going to be in tough to make it this far, to the Gold medal game.

But they have lived up to and surpassed expectations that the fans, media and even I had for them.

Tonight is the final test as they take on Team Russia in Buffalo, New York for Gold.

Canada handled the US to get to this point with Team Russia knocking off Team Sweden in a shootout. Canada is looking for it's 6th Gold in 7 years; Russia hasn't won the tournament since 2002.

These two teams have already met once in this tournament, with Team Canada knocking off a pesky Russian squad 6-3 in the tourney opener on Boxing Day.

The one big area this game will be won or lost is in goal. Canada's Mark Visentin goes head to head with Dmirti Shikin of Russia.

The two are underdog stories as both were expected to be backups going into the tournament. Oliver Roy for Canada and Igor Bobkov for Russia both had their sights on being the top guys for their country.

But Visentin and Shikin have stolen those jobs, and will look to steal Gold for their team tonight.

The game goes at 6:00 SK time on TSN.

Blades dump last place Hitmen

They were slow out of the gate, but by the end of the game the better team had shown it's true colors.

Saskatoon handled the Calgary Hitmen 5-0 tonight at home.

The Blades stumbled their way through the first 20 or 30 minutes of the game, and goaltender Adam Morrison was a big reason why they were in the game early.

The teams went scoreless through the first period.

Saskatoon got on the board twice in the second off of goals from Marek Viedensky and Stefan Elliott.

That lead would be expanded early in the third as Duncan Siemens scored his 4th of the year only 43 seconds into the frame.

From there it was a wash as the Blades got two more goals, from Jake Trask and Brent Benson to make the final 5-0.

It was a very special night for Stefan Elliott. The 19 year old Colorado Avalanche draft pick played in his 250th career WHL game. He ended the game with 1 goal and 3 assists.

His 2nd point of the night marked his 200th career WHL point. He was the first star. It was a treat to be at the game to see the best offensive defenseman in the WHL do his thing. Congrats to him on a great evening.

Lost in shuffle was Adam Morrison, who also shone brightly. The goaltender made 29 saves for his second shutout of the year. Brandon Glover had 26 saves in the loss for Calgary.

Next up for the Blades, a brief road trip to Prince Albert on Friday evening to take on the Raiders.

By the time that game rolls around, Saskatoon should have 3 more bodies in their lineup. Levi Bews and Ryan Olsen return from Manitoba tomorrow morning from the Under 17's. They will be in the lineup for Friday.

Curtis Hamilton is a bit of a toss up in regards to whether or not he will play Friday, but I bet he plays. He will suit up for Team Canada tomorrow evening in the Gold medal game at the World Juniors in Buffalo against Russia.

Josh Cowen gets 8 game suspension

The WHL has released it's decision in regards to the pending suspension of Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Cowen for his blatant sucker punch attack on Saskatoon's Stefan Elliott.

Cowen will miss 8 games for his cowardly act that occurred January 1st in Saskatoon.

He is considered a repeat offender by the league after being suspended last year for intentionally crashing the crease of the Saskatoon Blades during the playoffs.

I think the length of the suspension is pretty bang on. I suspected 5-7 games, so this is right around what I expected.

Hopefully his attack was worth it for him and his team.

Team Ontario wins World Under 17 Challenge, Pacific wins Bronze

Team Ontario got their revenge on Team USA at the World Under 17 challenge in Winnipeg tonight.

After falling in the gold medal game last year, the opposite happened tonight with Ontario coming out on top 5-3.

Sean Monahan scored twice, including the game winner with 12:47 to go.

The largest ever crowd for the event took in the action at the MTS Center in Winnipeg. Over 12,000 people took in the game, beating the old record by nearly 4,000 people.

In the Bronze medal match, Team Pacific got a 3rd period comeback before winning in overtime over Quebec 5-4.

Early in the third period Quebec led 3-1, but team Pacific stormed back to get the game to overtime. The tying goal game from Hunter Shinkaruk with under 4 minutes left before Brandon Magee scored the game winner just over 1:30 into the extra frame.

Both members of the Saskatoon Blades (Ryan Olsen, Levi Bews) were held pointless in the game. They will be returning to Saskatoon tomorrow morning and rejoining the team then.

Congrats to all the players who competed in the event this year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

WHL rankings for the 2011 NHL draft

Here's a little list I have been working on in regards to how I see the WHL crop for the 2011 NHL draft.

The list covers the top 25 in my view, along with a few honorable mentions.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Red Deer Rebels. C, L, 6'0, 164lbs

RNH is the best playmaker in the draft and is head and shoulders above the rest of the WHL in this draft class. Very elusive player with amazing vision. Reads the play very well in regards to his playmaking. Very good at cycling the puck down low, even against much bigger and stronger players. Is known for a lightning quick release, but still doesn't shoot the puck enough. His skating is solid, but could really benefit from strengthening his legs to give him a quicker first step.

The biggest knock is his weight, so this summer will be important for him to hit the gym if he wants to have any shot at an NHL roster next year.

His teammates and coaches have praised his work ethic and preparedness before games.

NHL comparison : Matt Duchene

2. Duncan Siemens - Saskatoon Blades. D, L, 6'3, 200lbs

At 6'3 and over 200 pounds, the most impressive thing about Siemens is his skating ability. He is such a strong and powerful skater. His stride reminds me of Chris Pronger. Both very bow-legged skaters in that sense.

His offensive game is still coming along. His decision making is getting better, along with his patience with the puck as he has already exceeded his goal and point totals from last year.

He is a great passer and has a very hard shot. His shot still needs some work to improve his timing and accuracy, though.

He plays with a very tough physical edge, is a tough hitter and isn't afraid to drop the gloves with anyone.

Is already considered a big time leader of the Blades organization. He was actually named an assistant captain of the team before deciding to turn that down and instead give it to Stefan Elliott (who had just returned from Avs camp). He is vocal, as well as leading by example.

Overall, I think he is a very well rounded defenseman that would be considered more of a defense-first guy. Wouldn't shock me if he was the first defenseman taken in the NHL draft come June, even ahead of Adam Larsson.

NHL comparison : Ed Jovanovski

3. Sven Bartschi - Portland Winterhawks. LW, L, 5'10, 185lbs

Very solid all around player. The first year forward for Portland leads all WHL rookies in scoring (by 10 points). He's a solid skater with a good hard shot. Plays with a tough physical edge just like his country-men and Portland teammate Nino Niederreiter.

He may not have the same size as Nino, but he does have the same grit factor. Very tough player to play against and isn't afraid to get dirty to score goals and get his team a win.

NHL comparison - Alex Burrows

4. Ty Rattie - Portland Winterhawks. RW, R, 6'0, 170lbs

A very shifty, quick and dangerous player that leads the high powered Portland Winterhawks in scoring as a 17 year old. In my opinion he has the second best hands in the draft out of the WHL behind Michael St. Croix of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

He's a very solid playmaker with 33 assists so far this year in 40 games.

He is definitely a better offensive player than his teammate Bartschi, but is not quite as tough or as good defensively, thus he is ranked one spot back.

NHL comparable : Joe Pavelski, Jason Pominville

5. David Musil - Vancouver Giants. D, L, 6'3, 200lbs

At this time last year Musil would have been considered a top 5 pick. Since that time he hasn't really done anything wrong per say, he has just had players slide past him in the rankings due to their own performance on the ice.

Musil is still a solid 2-way defenseman that should become a safe and solid top 3-4 defenseman on an NHL team. He is known for being a solid skater that uses his long reach to his advantage.

If he does have one knock on him, it's that he doesn't play tough enough hockey or use his size to his advantage physically.

NHL comparison - Alex Edler

6. Mark McNeill - Prince Albert Raiders. C, R, 6'2, 210lbs

The top powerforward to come out of the WHL this year is McNeill. He is already a huge kid and knows how to use his size. He is excellent in on the forecheck and generates a ton of offense for his linemates by being physical and working hard down on the cycle.

Very solid hands in close around the net and a very good passer. Has been relied upon by the Raiders to play first line minutes all year as a 17 year old and hasn't stumbled. He plays in all situations killing penalties and on the powerplay.

Would not be shocked if a team liked him enough to take him in the top 15 of the June draft.

NHL comparison : David Backes

7. Myles Bell - Regina Pats. D, R, 6'0, 202lbs

Bell could very well be the best offensive defenseman to come out of the WHL this year. He's an excellent skater and is a very solid passer. He is not afraid to go for a skate with the puck or look for a long stretch pass to the far blueline. He does both on a regular basis.

He's got solid size at over 200 pounds. He doesn't shy away from the physical contact either.

Overall he is 4th in goals for WHL defenseman and that's saying something considering how bad his Regina Pats team is.

NHL comparison : Stephane Robidas

8. Michael St. Croix - Edmonton Oil Kings. C, R, 5'11, 179lbs

St. Croix is arguably the most dynamic player in the WHL draft class this year. He is a very agile and quick skater and has world class hands.

Over the last month and a bit the native of Winnipeg has taken the Oil Kings on his back and pushed them up the standings. So far this year he has 49 points in 38 games, already passing his totals from last year.

I still think he struggles with consistency and is very up and down. That can be said for almost all the players on this list, so I won't judge him too early on that.

I do think he is a big wild card of this draft. He wasn't selected to participate in the top prospects game, so that either means many NHL teams aren't interested or they already have seen enough of Mr. St. Croix.

NHL comparison : Danny Briere

9. Colin Jacobs - Seattle Thunderbirds. C, R, 6'2, 204lbs

The 17 year old from Texas has taken a huge step forward in his game this year. He is already past his totals from last year in goals and assists, in exactly half as many games.

The big centre plays a very mature and solid 2 way game. He is a physical presence goes hard to the net.

Him and McNeill are the two top powerforwards in the WHL draft class, and Jacobs is not far behind McNeill. Jacobs has also been forced to play a big role with the Thunderbirds this year and is benefiting greatly from the extra ice time.

Along with his two-way game, he has also played some point on the powerplay this year in Seattle. A very useful player.

NHL comparison : Ryan Kesler

10. Reece Scarlett - Swift Current Broncos. D, R, 6'1, 168lbs

One of the biggest sleepers of the draft in my opinion.

He's a long and wiry defender that might have the best stick of any defenseman in the draft. A very solid one on one defender with very good offensive instincts.

Scarlett has been playing top paring minutes all season for the Broncos due to injuries and a lack of healthy bodies, but is taking the experience and running with it.

He's a very good passer and has amazing patience when quarterbacking a powerplay. If this kid falls passed the 2nd round, someone is getting a very solid steal on their hands.

NHL comparison : A better skating Brian Rafalski

11. Shane McColgan - Kelowna Rockets. RW, R, 5'10, 160lbs

Dynamic offensive player that has slid in many draft rankings. After a slow start his play has picked up more recently.

12. Joe Morrow - Portland Winterhawks. D, L, 6'1, 198lbs

Very solid skating defenseman. Good offensive instincts. Stealing minutes from other defenseman on his team who are no slouches.

13. Brent Benson - Saskatoon Blades. C, L, 5'11, 187lbs

Might be the most complete two way forward in the draft. Underrated offensive skills and will do anything for his team. Great PKer and shot blocker.

14. Adam Lowry - Swift Current Broncos. LW, L, 6'4, 184lbs

Son of former NHLer Dave Lowry is a big body that moves pretty well. Solid two way player who is very physical and his hands are getting better every game.

15. Jesse Forsberg - Prince George Cougars. D, L, 6'1, 195lbs

Very tough and physical defense-first defender. Tough as nails and will fight anyone, any time. Expected more offense from him this year, which hasn't materialized.

16. Graeme Craig - Swift Current Broncos. D, L, 6'4, 217lbs

The epitome of a physical defender. Very good defensively and hits like a truck. Think of a John Erskine or Brooks Orpik kind of guy.

17. Matej Stransky - Saskatoon Blades. RW, R, 6'2, 195lbs

The Czech protects the puck line his country-men Jaromir Jagr. Almost impossible to knock off the puck on the cycle. A very raw player, but could be a massive riser as the season goes on.

18. Alex Kuvaev - Lethbridge Hurricanes. RW, L, 6'3, 190lbs

The big, skilled Russian is having a very solid season. Has a dynamic skill set and great hands.

19. Colin Smith - Kamloops Blazers. C, R, 5'10, 167lbs

Big things were expected from the average-sized center, and it hasn't quite gone his way this year. He is still a very good offensive player and should pique the interest of many teams.

20. Luke Lockhart - Seattle Thunderbirds. C, R, 5'10, 182lbs

A very shifty and dangerous goal scorer. Think of a Brian Gionta-type skillset.

21. Tyler Wotherspoon - Portland Winterhawks, D
22. Keegan Lowe - Edmonton Oil Kings, D
23. Kale Kessy - Medicine Hat Tigers, C
24. Travis Ewanyk - Edmonton Oil Kings, LW
25. Laurent Brossoit - Edmonton Oil Kings, G

HM: Darren Dietz - Saskatoon, Marcel Noebels - Seattle, Marek Hrbas - Edmonton, Marek Tvrdon - Vancouver, Liam Liston - Brandon

Blades host Calgary Hitmen

The Saskatoon Blades take a 9 game home winning streak into tonight's game at the Credit Union Centre.

Tonight's opponent is the last overall team in the WHL, the Calgary Hitmen.

Saskatoon is coming off a loss, 4-2 in Swift Current on Sunday night. The Hitmen also lost on Sunday, in Regina. That was a game that Calgary led 3-1 heading into the third period, but the Pats stormed back with two goals in the last frame and then won in a shootout.

Prior to that loss for Calgary, they had actually won two games in a row, so they are actually playing better hockey then their overall record shows.

Here are my keys to tonight's game:

For Calgary

- Play a close checking game. The Hitmen don’t have the offensive depth the Blades have, so they need to try and keep this a low scoring affair.

- Take advantage of the powerplay. They are top 5 on the road with the man advantage, they can’t let their chances go to waste.

- And get the puck behind the Blades goal. Once again Saskatoon is only playing with 5 defenseman and they have played a ton of games in a short stretch since Christmas.

For Saskatoon

- Get on Calgary early. The Blades need to be the ones to score the first goal here to put the pressure on a team that is last overall in the league.

- Continue to get a ton of shots. Last game in Swift Current the Blades had 39 shots in a losing effort. With that many shots on goal, you aren’t going to lose too often.

- And continue to get a balanced scoring attack. Even the third line has been finding offense lately for the Blades, trying to defend 3 lines is extremely tough.

Puck drop goes at 7:05 at CUC. You can listen live on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pre-game show at 6:30.

Portland Winterhawks get American blueline re-inforcement

The Portland Winterhawks blueline is adding a 2nd round NHL pick.

William Wrenn from Achorage, Alaska is joining Portland after deciding to leave the Denver Pioneers.

Wrenn is a 2nd round pick of the San Jose Sharks from the 2009 draft.

It has been a struggle for the defenseman so far this season, picking up only 1 assist in 18 games. He has struggled with injuries in his short career after signing with DU after his stint with the American Development Program and has been used mostly as a 7th defenseman this year.

"William feels he will have a better opportunity to play on a regular basis and contribute in a more important role at the junior hockey level," DU coach George Gwozdecky said in a statement. "He was a good teammate and was well liked in our locker room. William will be missed by our program." (Quote credit goes to the Denver Post)

Monday wrap from U17's

It was a tough loss for Team Pacific at the World Under 17 Challenge in Manitoba.

They fell 6-5 in overtime to Team USA, and now the Americans will play for Gold. Nicolas Kerdiles had the game winner 7:24 into overtime.

It was a game that featured a huge comeback for Team Pacific, who actually scored 4 straight goals to get the game into overtime. Hunter Shinkaruk (Medicine Hat Tigers) had 1G and 3A in the game. Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw Warriors) had 2G. Matt Dumba (Red Deer Rebels) had 4 assists. And Ryan Olsen of the Blades had an assist in the loss.

The other scores were like this:

Team Slovakia 5 - Team Germany 8

Team Finland 5 - Team Czech 4

Team Ontario 2 - Team Quebec 1 (OT)

Team West 1 - Team Atlantic

With their overtime win, Team Ontario will take on Team USA for Gold, just like last year. That game goes Tuesday evening. Quebec takes on Pacific for bronze in the afternoon.

Canada whips US at World Juniors

Bring on the Russians.

Team Canada came out of the gates hot and got on the board first as they dumped Team USA 4-1 tonight at the World Juniors in Buffalo, NY.

Blades forward Curtis Hamilton got Canada rolling with his 4th goal of the tournament early in the first period.

The other Canadian goals came from Quinton Howden, Ryan Johansen and Zack Kassian. Chris Brown had the lone tally for the Americans.

The mostly-Canadian crowd saw Mark Visentin stand tall for the Canadian side as he made 22 saves in the win. Jack Campbell was a big reason why the score was actually as close as it was. The American goalie made 37 saves in the loss, including several massive saves to keep the game in reach for his side.

Canada now takes on Russia for Gold on Wednesday, after Team Russia knocked off Sweden this afternoon in a shootout.

Sweden will take on Team USA on Wednesday afternoon in the Bronze Medal game.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Blades fall short in Swift Current

It was a game that the Saskatoon Blades deserved to win, but didn't.

They came up short in Swift Current against the Broncos, falling 4-2.

The Blades outshot the Broncos 39-20 for the game.

After one period the Broncos led 1-0 after a goal from Trevor Cameron. In the second period Swift Current got two more goals 50 seconds apart after the Blades turned the puck over in the neutral and were caught changing on back to back shifts. Those goals game from Jordan Peddle and Trevor Cameron again.

Saskatoon would make a game of it in the third period.

They finally got some puck luck as a shot from the point by Josh Nicholls bounced off of goalie Mark Friesen and up and over him and into the net.

Not even 4 minutes later the Blades got another bounce as Brent Benson bounced a puck off a defender and into the Broncos goal to make it a one goal game. For Benson, it was his 11th goal of the year.

Saskatoon put on the pressure the last 5 minutes of the game, including pulling the goalie but the Broncos did what it took to keep the puck out. They blocked shots and deflected pucks. And if the puck got to the net, Friesen was there.

Adam Lowry hit the empty net with one second left to ice it.

Steven Stanford started in goal for Saskatoon and made 17 saves. Friesen stopped 37 of 39 to win.

Saskatoon was 1 for 3 on the PP, with Swift Current going 0 for 2.

The Blades now host Calgary tomorrow night.

Canada knocks off Switzerland to get to the US

Team Canada moved on at the World Juniors with a 4-1 win over Team Switzerland yesterday afternoon.

Canada got goals from Louis Leblanc, Casey Cizikas, Ryan Johansen and an empty netter from Zack Kassian. The Swiss got on the board early in the game off a goal by Inti Pestoni.

Benjamin Conz was a huge story in the game, keeping his team in it as Canada threw 50 shots on goal. Conz made 47 saves. Mark Visentin got the start ahead of Olivier Roy for Canada in goal. He made 21 saves to get the win.

Now, Canada has a chance at redemption as they will now take on the USA. It's obviously a rematch of last year's Gold medal game in Saskatoon, that the USA won.

The winner of tonight's game will take on the winner of Sweden-Russia for Gold.

The game tonight goes at 6 PM on TSN.

World Under 17 Challenge Sunday Wrap-up

4 more games yesterday in Manitoba at the World Under 17 Challenge:

Team Germany 2 - Team Atlantic 7

- Nathan MacKinnon had a pair of goals in the game. He has had an amazingly strong tournament considering he is only 15 years old, playing (and playing great) against players a year older than him. He is expected to be a top pick in the 2013 NHL draft.

Team USA 5 - Team Quebec 2

- Team USA finished atop group A with the win.

Team Ontario 4 - Team Pacific 2

- Team Ontario won group B with the win. Neither Ryan Olsen or Levi Bews of the Blades got on the scoreboard in the loss. Team Pacific now plays team USA in a semifinal matchup this afternoon.

Team Slovakia 1 - Team West 4

- Team West clinched third in group B with the win. They take on Team Atlantic in the 5th place game tonight.

Here are the games set for today:

Team Slovakia vs. Team Germany
Team USA vs. Team Pacific
Team Finland vs. Team Czech
Team West vs. Team Atlantic
Team Ontario vs. Team Quebec

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Video of Rebels-Blades from last night

First, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first career fight with Lukas Sutter:

Now, the gutless and ugly incident involving Josh Cowen and Stefan Elliott:

Luckily the big swing mostly missed Elliott. Either way, it should be a decent suspension in the works for the Rebels forward.

Blades win fight filled affair

The rivalry with the Red Deer Rebels seems to be heating up.

The Blades beat the Rebels on the scoreboard 7-3 tonight. Red Deer lost the game and their composure.

The Blades got goals from Matty Stransky, Stefan Elliott, Chris Collins, Darian Dziurzysnki and a pair from Dalton Thrower in the win. Red Deer had goals from Byron Froese, Colten Mayor and Tyson Ness.

Steven Stanford made 40 saves in the win and Darcy Kuemper was pulled part-way through for Red Deer.

The biggest story of the game was the rough stuff, and a blindside attack on Blades defenseman Stefan Elliott.

It all started with a high hit by Rebels forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Lukas Sutter. Nugent-Hopkins was going to be called for the high stick, but Sutter decided to get a little revenge. He went after Nugent-Hopkins and the two danced. Credit to Nugent-Hopkins as he stood in their and held his own against the bigger and tougher Sutter.

The Rebels clearly weren't happy with their star player having to defend himself. So, they went for some renegade justice.

The next shift Josh Cowen of the Rebels went after Stefan Elliott with a blindside attack. He dropped his gloves and took a massive sucker punch swing at Elliott, grazing his temple. He then jumped on top of him and proceeded to punch away. Josh Nicholls jumped onto Cowen to defend Elliott as a pile up ensued.

Luckily Cowen's massive windup missed connecting clearly.

Elliott was left with a bloody forehead.

Cowen was given a major and thrown from the game, as was Josh Nicholls.

It was gutless and a cowardly act. The league will definitely be looking into it. I would not be shocked to see a suspension in the 5 game range. It truly was "Bertuzzi-esque".

The two teams meet again on February 1st at CUC.

Tomorrow night the Blades are in Swift Current to take on the Broncos.

Another day at the Under 17's

4 more games today from Manitoba at the Under 17 World Hockey Challenge.

The games went like this:

Team Slovakia 1 - Team Czech 4

Team Atlantic 1 - Team USA 12

Team Germany 1 - Team Finland 3

Team West 3 - Team Ontario 4

Team West did a great job making it close against team Ontario, the defending runner's up at the event. Blades property Brett Stovin had an assist in the game. Chandler Stephenson of the Pats and a Saskatoon native had two of their goals in a losing effort.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blades host Rebels

It's the third meeting of the season between the Saskatoon Blades and the Red Deer Rebels tonight, and it's the first in Saskatoon.

The two teams have traded wins in the first two games. Saskatoon won the first 2-1, with Red Deer winning the second game 7-1.

The Blades have now won 4 games in a row after completing a home and home sweep of the PA Raiders to enter the 2nd half of the year.

The Rebels are also coming off a win, a 5-0 shutout of Lethbridge earlier this week.

The Rebels are led by the most dangerous draft-eligible player in the WHL in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, he missed last game and is considered day to day with injury. It will be interesting to see if he plays in this game. I really hope he does, as it will be the first time I will get to see him play live. Some people have said he compares to a Pavel Datsyuk or Joe Sakic type player. He currently leads the entire WHL in points.

Here are my keys to the game:

For Red Deer

- Protect well against the cycle down low. The Blades top scorers use this area of the ice with the best of them, the Rebels can’t chase too much in their own zone.

- Continue the success on their penalty kill. It’s the 2nd ranked unit in the league and they need to be strong here tonight.

- And play physical against the Blades defense. It’s the 3rd straight game they are playing with 5 defenseman. Take advantage of that.

For Saskatoon

- Have a quick start. This team has found success early in games since the Christmas break. It makes it much easier to win when scoring first.

- Disrupt Darcy Kuemper. The big man from Saskatoon is dominating WHL goalies in almost all statistical categories. The Blades need traffic and to get in his face tonight.

- And key on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (if he plays). The 17 year old is a game breaking player and the key to the offence. Limiting his damage is key.

The game goes at 7:05 from CUC starting with the pre-game show on 92.9 The Bull at 6:30.

4 more games at World Under 17 Challenge

New Years Eve had 4 games on tap in Manitoba for the World Under 17 Challenge, including 2 games featuring the teams from Western Canada.

Here's how the games went:

Team Quebec 5 - Team Germany 3

Team Finland 3 - Team Atlantic 4

Team Czech 2 - Team West 5

Team Pacific 7 - Team Slovakia 3

In Team West's game, Blades property Brett Stovin had a goal, the team's 4th of the game. He also had 2 penalty minutes. West will take on Team Ontario tonight, in a must-win game.

Team Pacific remained perfect at the tournament with their win. Members of the Blades Ryan Olsen and Levi Bews each had a goal in the victory. Team Pacific has a huge matchup with Team Ontario tonight.

Team Canada falls to Sweden in a shootout

First off all, Happy New Years!

Yes, I am a bit late with this post because last night was in fact New Years. But as they say, better late than never.

Team Canada was dealt a big blow last night, falling to Sweden in a shootout. With the loss, they blew a chance to slide right into the semi-finals of the tournament.

The final was 6-5. It was a wild game overall, that started off with a very entertaining first period.

Canada led 3-2 after the first period. They got goals from Sean Couturier, Quinton Howden and Saskatoon Blades winger Curtis Hamilton. The Swedes had markers from Max Friberg and Carl Klingberg.

Things would be tied going into the third period as Sweden hit the scoreboard twice in period two, with Canada scoring once. Goals for Sweden came from Jesper Thornberg and Carl Klingberg, again. Curtis Hamilton had his second goal of the game for Canada to make things even after 40.

The teams traded goals in the third, Brayden Schenn for Canada and Patrick Cehlin for Sweden.

No one scored in OT, so the game was decided by a shootout.

The Swedes shot first.

Oscar Lindberg went first and scored. Ryan Ellis tried to answer for Canada but was robbed by Robin Lehner.

Calle Jarnkrok went next for Sweden and was stopped by Roy. Brayden Schenn tried to even it for Canada and missed.

Anton Lander had a chance to ice it, and didn't miss.

Just like that the game was Sweden's.

To me the game came down to goaltending. The goalie who would make that key save in this game for his team, would get the W. Olivier Roy failed to do so. I truly hope that coach Dave Cameron see's that Roy was a big reason for the loss yesterday. He gave up a few soft goals during the game, and couldn't step up when his team needed him in the shootout.

I've been a big fan of what Visentin has done in this tournament, and I think he should get a shot next game.

That next game comes against Switzerland, after they fell to the US last night 2-1.