Monday, February 28, 2011

A Small Giant Is WHL's Player Of The Week

Vancouver Giants sniper Brendan Gallagher has been named the WHL's first star of the week.

In 3 games last week the mini-dynamo sniped 5 goals and added 5 more assists to go along with a +6 rating.

It's the first time the Montreal Canadiens draft pick has been chosen as player of the week this season in the WHL. He currently sits 4th overall in league scoring with 43 goals and 44 assists for a total of 87 points.

In other WHL news:

- Moose Jaw Wariors goalie Thomas Heemskerk has been nominated as CHL goalie of the week after posting a 1-0-0-1 record with a shutout in the last 7 days.

- A decent matchup tonight on Rogers Sportsnet. It's a battle of Alberta, WHL style as Edmonton plays host to Calgary. Speaking of undersized, dynamic offensive players, check out 17 year old Dylan Wruck for Edmonton tonight. The 5'8 Saskatoon native leads Edmonton with 34 goals and 71 points in 62 games this year. They don't call him the "Wrucking ball" for nothing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blades Knock Off Warriors in A Shootout

It was a total 360 from last night's game.

That barn burner with the Brandon Wheatkings and Saskatoon Blades ended in a 7-6 final for the Manitoba group.

Well, tonight it was a defensive showdown in Moose Jaw with the Blades winning 2-1 in a shootout.

It was also the final time the Blades will play at the "Crushed Can" this year, atleast during the regular season.

The Warriors got a rebound goal from Spencer Edwards just over the midway point of the 1st period.

That's how it stayed for over 2 periods before Stefan Elliott got the Blades on the board with under 7 minutes to play in the game, tying the game at one.

The teams traded powerplay's in the final minutes of the game, but neither team was able to make those chances count.

The teams headed to overtime and both teams had their chances. The best was a breakaway by Cody Beach, who failed to capitalize as he shot the puck wide and wide.

After no one scored in the 5 minute extra frame, the teams went to a shootout.

MJ 1st shot. Svendsen stopped.

Blades 1st shot. Trask stopped.

MJ 2nd shot. Howden stopped.

Blades 2nd shot. Schenn stopped.

MJ 3rd shot. Hood stopped.

Blades 3rd shot. Hamilton scored to win it.

The win puts the Blades up 7 points on Red Deer for the Conference and League lead, with 1 game in hand.

Saskatoon now has several days off before travelling to Edmonton next Wednesday night.

Wheatkings Battle Back To Beat Blades

A hard earned victory for the Brandon Wheatkings.

They overcame two, three goal deficits in the game last night to beat Saskatoon 7-6.

Brandon scored first, but after that Saskatoon exploded. They scored 4 straight goals to break the game open in the first period. Brandon calmed things down after that with Matt McKay scoring the last goal of the first period as it was 4-2 after one.

The second period is where Brandon started their comeback. They oustcored Saskatoon 3-1 in the 2nd frame, making it 5-5 after 2.

Once again, Saskatoon jumped out in front in the third with Josh Nicholls converting on a breakaway chance at 6:56 of the period.

The story of the comeback continued as 30 seconds later Jens Meilleur tied things back up.

That's how things stayed until late when David Toews came down the off wing and fired a shot high to the glove side of Steven Stanford. It went off his glove and into the net for a 7-6 Brandon lead with 3:12 to play.

Saskatoon had their chances in the final few minutes, but couldn't find the equalizer. Brandon held on to hand Saskaton only their third regulation loss on home ice this year.

The Blades got goals from Ryan Olsen, Matej Stransky, Brayden Schenn (SH), Nicholls and two from Jake Trask.

Trask's 29 now are tied for the team lead with Jos Nicholls.

Brandon got their goals from Jordan Fransoo, Matt McKay, Michael Ferland, Toews, Meilleur and two from Brendan Walker.

The Blades now head to Moose Jaw. They take on the Warriors tonight at 7 PM.

Other notes: Once again the Blades were without Marek Viedensky (groin) and Brent Benson (knee). Both remain day to day and will be game time decisions for tonight.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Rematch From Wednesday Night

The Saskatoon Blades once again host the Brandon Wheatkings tonight at CUC, for the 2nd time in 3 nights.

Saskatoon beat Brandon 7-4 on Wednesday. That win was marked by a 5 point night by former Wheatking Brayden Schenn. In those 5 points was also his 300th career WHL point.

Saskatoon was helped out with some early offense in that game, so it should be expected that Brandon will need to be better to start tonight's effort.

Steven Stanford returns to the cage tonight as Adam Morrison won on Wednesday night. Saskatoon-native Corbin Boes was the loser for Brandon on that night, so I would expected fellow 17 year old Liam Liston in goal tonight for the Wheaties.

Here are my keys to the game:

For Brandon

- Get the all important first goal. They gave up an early one last game and it put them back on their heels. That can’t happen for them tonight.

- Do their best to take Saskatoon’s speed away. The defenseman are going to have to try and stand Saskatoon up at the blueline and the forwards are going to have to be up for creating back pressure on the backcheck.

- And stay aggressive on the forecheck. It creates chances and can draw penalties, setting up their 4th ranked powerplay.

For Saskatoon

- Improve the PK. They were scored on 3 out of 6 chances last game. That area of the game needs to see some improvement heading into the playoffs and it can start here tonight.

- Protect the slot area of the ice. 3 of Brandon’s 4 goals came from right there on the ice on Wednesday night. Keeping the chances to the outside will be key.

- And Steven Stanford needs to have a strong game. Adam Morrison played last game, giving Stanford a rest for the first time in over a month. Goaltending is very important for Saskatoon tonight against a team in Brandon who can score a lot of goals.

Puck drop goes at 7:05 from CUC. You can catch the game on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pregame show at 6:30.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Calgary The Site of 2011 WHL Awards

The WHL announced today that Calgary is going to be the site of the 2011 WHL awards on May 4th.

It's a day set aside to honour the best of the league for the year that was. 12 awards will be handed out, including WHL Player of the Year (Four Broncos Memorial Trophy), WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy) and the Defenceman of the Year (Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy).

The awards will take place at the BMO Centre in Stampede Park.

Then on May 5th, the WHL's bantam draft will be held at that same site.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Schenn Show Invades CUC

Former Wheatking Brayden Schenn and his Blades teammates got revenge tonight following last week's ugly loss in Brandon.

They returned the favour from last week's 7-4 loss by winning tonight 7-4 in Saskatoon.

It was Brayden Schenn leading the way with a 5 point night. Saskatoon got goals from Curtis Hamilton, Matej Stransky, Stefan Elliott and 2 each from Jake Trask and Brayden Schenn.

The top line of Hamilton-Schenn-Trask combined for a total of 12 points, while Stransky's goal was one of the nicest I have seen this year. Watch for it on the WHL's plays of the week.

The Wheatkings played a pretty strong game despite the score. They did give up several odd man rushes and their puck management was not very good, but they had a ton of great chances offensively that failed to come through for them.

They got their goals from Mark Stone and Scott Glennie, who each had 2.

Adam Morrison was the winner in his return to the lineup in the last 38 days. He was pretty sharp, despite giving up 4 goals (with 3 of those on the powerplay). Mo made several spectacular saves, including a massive glove snag early in the third period.

Saskatoon won without two of their top 3 centers. Brent Benson continues to be day to day while nursing an injured knee. Marek Viedensky tweaked his groin in practice yesterday and is day to day. Both could be back in the lineup on the weekend.

These two teams meet up again Friday night here in Saskatoon. Brandon will be surely looking for their revenge.

Viedensky day-to-day with bad groin

The big Slovak centre tweaked a groin in practice yesterday and is a no-go for tonights game against Brandon. He is being listed as day to day. Brent Benson is also out of the lineup tonight as he nurses a bad knee.

Those holes in the lineup, and a lacklustre effort in Medicine Hat means a bigtime shakeup all over the place for the Blades.

Here are the Blades lines for tonight:

Elliott- -Bews



Blades Hold Steady At 2nd In CHL

The new CHL rankings are out, and despite going 2-2 in their last 4 games, the Saskatoon Blades held their spot at number 2.

The Blades have a record of 46-12-0-2, the second most wins of any team in the CHL. The only team ahead of Saskatoon continues to be the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.

Saskatoon and Mississauga are the only two teams who have been ranked on the list for the first 22 weeks of the CHL calendar year.

Two other WHL teams remained in the top ten this week with Red Deer slotting in at number 5 and Portland 7th.

Kootenay was an honourable mention.

Blades Host Red Hot Brandon

Saskatoon will have goaltender Adam Morrison back between the pipes tonight as they host the Brandon Wheatkings, a team that has won 5 straight games and 8 of their last 10.

Morrison hasn't stepped in goal for Saskatoon in a meaningful game in 38 days. His last appearance coming in a 3-2 loss to the Swift Current Broncos on January 15th. He missed the last stretch of games because of Mono, a sickness that left him fatigued and unable to muster much energy.

Well tonight he gets a huge test as Brandon is playing great hockey. They are coming off a home and home sweep of Swift Current on the weekend, scoring 16 goals in those 2 games.

During their 5 game winning streak they have scored an impressive 35 goals, that's 7 a game.

Saskatoon hasn't been playing up to their usual standard, splitting their last 4 games, going 2-2. They beat the Kootenay Ice on Saturday night 5-3 and followed that up with a loss Sunday in Medicine Hat 5-2.

The Wheaties are a team that Saskatoon has struggled with so far this season, with each team winning 2 games out of the previous 4 games. All those wins have been on home ice.

Here are my keys to the game:

For Brandon

- Get shots from every angle possible. Adam Morrison starts for the first time in 38 days. Some rust could be expected.

- Be careful with the Blades defenseman. They can chip in offensively as good as any group in the league. Stay tight with them and watch them when they pinch in.

- And stay out the box. This Blades powerplay unit has remained extremely hot, Brandon can’t tempt fate by going down a man on too many occasions.

For Saskatoon

- Score the first goal. They gave up a goal 44 seconds into the game in Medicine Hat. They can’t let that happen here tonight.

- Be committed defensively. The forwards of Brandon are as dangerous as they come. Saskatoon's forwards have to make sure they backcheck hard to try and cut down on the chances against.

- And give Adam Morrison help in goal. The defenseman need to do their best at clearing the crease to give the goalie a view of shots from the point.

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

Other notes: There has been some speculation that Brent Benson could be returning to the Blades lineup for tonight's game. He has been out with a knee injury suffered February 13th in Moose Jaw. At that time he was expected to miss 2-4 weeks. It's only been 10 days, so we'll see how that plays out tonight. Benson is hands down one of the toughest players on the team and takes a beating game in game out blocking shots and throwing hits. So I guess it wouldn't surprise me if he plays tonight.

Another interesting stat I came across today. Brayden Schenn has only played in 15 games with the Blades so far this season. In that short amount of time he has already taken the team lead in powerplay goals with 8. That is one ahead of Josh Nicholls and Marek Viedensky, who both have 7. Schenn also had one in his short stint in Brandon in January, so he has a total of 9 PPG's this season as a whole.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blades Fall In Medicine Hat

A 2 goal deficit heading into the third period proved to be too much to overcome for the Saskatoon Blades.

The Blades fell to Medicine Hat 5-2.

Teams traded goals throughout the first period with the Tigers leading 3-2 after one. They added another goal in the second to stretch the lead to 4-2.

The Tigers kept on rolling in the third, with Tyler Pitlick adding another goal, his second of the night, at 12:45 to extend the lead to 5-2.

The Blades got markers from Curtis Hamilton and Marek Viedensky in the game. The Tigers got 2 goals from Tyler Pitlick, Reid Petryk and Emerson Etem added singles.

The Blades ended their mini 2 game road trip at 1-1 after winning against Kootenay last night.

Saskatoon's next game is a home game on Wednesday night. The Brandon Wheat Kings visit CUC as the Blades will put their dominant home record on the line against a red hot Wheaties club.

If you are so lucky, enjoy the stat holiday tomorrow. I am one of the unlucky ones that had to work all 3 days this weekend, waking up before 4 AM on average. Ouch!

Blades get late goal to beat Ice

The Saskatoon Blades continue to roll along, even if they can't seem to hold a late lead.

The Blades went into the third period against Kootenay last night up 3-1.

But, the Ice fought back.

First Kevin King scored at 3:55, shorthanded, to cut the lead to 3-2.

Then, it was Jesse Ismond with his 2nd of the game at 12:15 to even the game up.

But, Marek Viedensky once again showed his flare for the dramatic. The San Jose Sharks property scored a goal with 2:07 to play, putting the Blades back out in front.

Jake Trask would hit the empty net to ice the Ice, making the final 5-3.

It's Saskatoon's 46th win of the year, matching their total from all of last year. They still have 13 games remaining in their season.

Brayden Schenn added 2 powerplay goals for the Blades. Chris Collins also scored on the powerplay as the Blades were 3 for 7 overall. The Ice were 1 for 3 on the man advantage.

It was also a fight filled game.

Lukas Sutter took on Drew Czerwonka in the 2nd period. During that same stoppage in play, Matt Fraser jumped Duncan Siemens. The two fought, and were both tossed per WHL rules.

Saskatoon spent the night on the bus following the game, arriving in Medicine Hat this morning at 5 AM Saskatchewan time.

That game goes at 6:00 local time, 7:00 Saskatchewan time tonight.

Don't be shocked if Adam Morrison starts in goal for the Blades.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blades start mini trip against Kootenay tonight

The Saskatoon Blades used yesterday as a travel day as they boarded the bus bright and early and started the 10 hour trek to Cranbrook, BC.

That's the site of tonight's game against the Kootenay Ice.

It should be an interesting matchup between two of the best teams in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

It's made more intriguing by the fact that it is Schenn vs. Eakin.

The two were both acquired by their current respective clubs at (or just before) the WHL trade deadline back in January. Both came with massive price tags, but both also seem to be living up to their hefty billing.

The Ice come in at 3rd in the conference with 79 points after a 4-1 home win last night against the Medicine Hat Tigers. That win moved the Ice ahead of Medicine Hat in the standings by 2 points. The Ice have also won 5 straight games and are 8-2 in their last 10.

The Blades are 9-1 in their last 10 games, that one loss came on the road earlier this week.

In goal, I would expect a matchup of Steven Stanford against Nathan Lieuwen, but that has yet to be determined.

Game time goes at 8:00 SK time. You can catch it on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pregame at 7:30.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My 2011 Mock Draft

Had a day off today, and decided to put together a bit of a Mock Draft for the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Here's how I see things playing out, for now.

1. Edmonton Oilers – Adam Larsson - The Oilers can’t pass on the chance to draft a franchise defenseman.

2. Ottawa Senators – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – The most talented offensive forward in the draft, and the Sens will have a great 1-2 punch with Spezza and RNH.

3. New York Islanders – Sean Couturier – The best two way forward in the draft and a big body. Will be a nice fit on their second line behind Tavares.

4. New Jersey Devils – Gabriel Landeskog – A great overall player who should fit into the Devils top six for years to come.

5. Florida Panthers – Ryan Strome – The Panthers still lack game changers up front. Strome can be that long term.

6. Boston Bruins – Dougie Hamilton – The Bruins pass on Ryan Murphy and take the bigger, slick skating two way defender in the Alex Pietrangelo mold.

7. Colorado Avalanche – Duncan Siemens -- The Avs fill a massive franchise hole by taking the meanest and toughest defender in the draft in Duncan Siemens.

8. St. Louis Blues – Tyler Biggs -- The big, tough power forward will add more size to the Blues top 6. Could turn into a Chris Stewart-type of player.

9. Atlanta Thrashers – Mika Zibanejad – The big and physical centre should be a nice fit for the Thrahers down the road.

10. Buffalo Sabres – Jonathan Huberdeau – The Sabres laugh all the way to the bank as Huberdeau slides to them at 10th. They need the infusion of talent down the middle.

11. Carolina Hurricanes – Brandon Saad – Carolina adds a big American winger who remains a pretty big question mark.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets – Scott Mayfield – With players like Brassard and Voracek up front, the Jackets still need to add to their defensive core. Mayfield does that.

13. NY Rangers – Ryan Murphy – For me, it’s either Boston or the Rangers that grab him in the first 13 picks. Boston chooses Hamilton and the best offensive defender in the draft goes for a bit of a slide to 13th.

14. Chicago Blackhawks – Matt Puempel – The sniper has had an up and down 2 seasons, but Chicago is happy to grab him.

15. Minnesota Wild – Joel Armia – The big, rangy and raw goal scorer will be a great fit alongside 2010 draft pick Mikael Granlund.

16. LA Kings – Alex Khokhlachev -- The Kings continue to add offense to their team by taking the dynamic and slick Russian.

17. Calgary Flames – Mark McNeill – McNeill’s game fits the city and the team’s profile. The gritty two way centre could be a great fit for the Flames second line down the road.

18. Dallas Stars – David Musil – The Stars hop at the chance to draft the safe, but unspectacular defense-first defender.

19. Anaheim Ducks – Ty Rattie -- The Ducks are more than comfortable taking a very slick offensive player in Rattie.

20. San Jose Sharks – Jamie Oleksiak – The Sharks continue to have nice pieces up front on their roster, but Oleksiak could be a game changer on their back end for years to come.

21. Ottawa Senators – Sven Bartschi – After adding RNH, the Sens are more than happy to bring in an excellent all-round winger in Bartschi.

22. Phoenix Coyotes – Mark Scheifele – The Coyotes add more size and two way play to their forward crop with the addition of the Barrie Colts 6’3 centre.

23. Montreal Canadiens – Nathan Beaulieu – The Canadiens have a hard time passing on the slick two way defender with the French name. Haha.

24. Boston Bruins – Matthew Nieto – The Bruins snap up the speedster who plays at Boston University.

25. Washington Capitals – Nicklas Jensen – Arguably the most talented player ever out of Denmark should fit nicely with the high flying capitals.

26. Tampa Bay Lightning – Rocco Grimaldi – No arguing that this guy is in the upper echelon skillwise, but who takes a chance on his size? It’s Tampa at 26.

27. Detroit Red Wings – JT Miller – Could be a bit of a long term project. Wings have the time to wait for Miller.

28. Pittsburgh Penguins – Shane Prince – A nice offensive player on the wing, something the Pens will need more of in the future.

29. Toronto Maple Leafs – Daniel Catenacci – Leafs take the fastest player in the draft who is also good both ways and great on the PK. A safe pick for the Leafs.

30. Vancouver Canucks – Myles Bell – Vancouver adds one of the best offensive defenseman in the draft with this goal scorer out of Regina.

HM’s –Oscar Klefbom, Dmitri Jaskin, Richard Rakell, Vlad Namestnikov, Victor Rask, Zack Phillips, Colin Jacobs, Nick Shore and Chris Gibson

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blades stumble down the stretch, still beat Tigers in overtime

Saskatoon was lucky to come away with 2 points tonight with the way they allowed Medicine Hat back in late in tonight's game.

With the Blades up 4-2 late in the third, Medicine Hat cut the lead in half while up on a 5-3 man advantage. Thomas Carr was able to bang in a rebound off of a Wacey Hamilton one timer at 17:15 of the third.

The Blades then went to the powerplay as Wacey Hamilton took a cross checking penalty at 17:53. But, it was the Tigers scoring during that powerplay as Emerson Etem took a pass from Linden Vey and beat Steven Stanford while in all alone.

Two bang bang goals and this game was tied.

The game went to overtime and it was the Tigers having the first few chances. But, the Blades got the last laugh as Brayden Schenn finished off a scrambly play and slid the puck under Tyler Bunz for a 5-4 overtime win.

The Blades earlier goals came from Jake Trask, Darian Dziurzynski, Curtis Hamilton and Connor Cox.

The Tigers had two other goals from Scott McKay and another from Etem.

Both teams had success on the powerplay with the Blades going 1 for 6 and the Tigers at 2 for 5.

The crowd of just under 5000, who braved the massive blizzard, weren't disappointed with the entertaining game. For those who stayed home and watched the game on Sportsnet, they were also treated to a great game.

Up next for the Blades, a trip to the mountains to take on Kootenay on Saturday night. The team leaves on Friday. Then on Sunday, a rematch with these Tigers from Med Hat.

Blades welcome the league's best road team to CUC

After a tough loss last night, the Saskatoon Blades face another stiff challenge tonight with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

What makes it extra interesting is the fact that the game will be featured live from coast to coast on Rogers Sportsnet.

As mentioned in the title, the Medicine Hat Tigers are the league's best road team, going 19-8-2-1 for 41 points and a .683 winning %. With that being said, they are coming off of a pair of extra time losses this past weekend. An overtime loss in Brandon on Friday and a shootout loss in Regina on Saturday.

The Blades lost last night 7-4 in Brandon, putting an end to their 11 game winning streak. Saskatoon does have a 7 game winning streak intact on home ice, though.

Here are my keys to tonight's game:

For Medicine Hat

- Continue to get production from Linden Vey. The Saskatchewan product is tied for the league lead in points with 92. Saskatoon will have their hands full trying to shut him down.

- Force Saskatoon into penalties by using their quickness. The Tigers feature the 2nd best powerplay on the road of any team in the WHL (@ over 23%). That unit can win a game all by itself.

- And play physical. They have a smaller set of forwards, but have to use their grit along with that top notch speed. They can’t be afraid to get dirty in this game that should have a playoff feel to it.

For Saskatoon

- Rebound from last night with a quick start. Saskatoon needs to have a better start to this game as last night they were overwhelmed by the Brandon Wheat Kings the first few minutes.

- Get traffic on Tyler Bunz. The Oilers draft pick features the leagues second best save percentage at .918. Making him work to find pucks through traffic will be crucial.

- And be cautious with the Tigers speed. They might be the fastest team in the league. That means that the defense especially have to be cautious when pinching.

Game time goes at 7:05 from CUC. The pregame kicks off at 6:30 on 92.9 The Bull. And if you can't make it out, or listen on the radio, make sure you check it out on Rogers Sportsnet.

Blades now 2nd ranked team in the country

The Saskatoon Blades used an 11 game winning streak to move up the rankings across the CHL.

They moved up one spot from 3rd, and are now 2nd on the list.

Their 44-11-0-2 record for the year leaves them only behind the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL who are a very impressive 46-5-1-2. The Blades 44 wins are also second of any other team in the entire Canadian hockey league, and 4 ahead of both Mississauga and Quebec.

Other WHL teams on the list include the Red Deers Rebels at 5th and Portland at 9th.

The Kootenay Ice are also an honourable mention.

Blades come back to earth, lose in Brandon

The Saskatoon Blades massive winning streak came to an abrupt end last night as they fell on the road in Brandon 7-4.

It was the return of Brayden Schenn to his old barn in Manitoba, and it was clear his old Wheat King teammates had this one circled on the calendar.

Brandon scored early and often as they led 1-0 after the first period.

The second period is when they finally broke the damn that was Steven Stanford. The Wheaties scored 4 more in the 2nd to lead 5-1 after two.

The Blades outscored Brandon 3-2 in the third period, but it was too little too late.

Saskatoon got goals from Darren Dietz, Stefan Elliott and a pair from Jake Trask. Elliott also added 2 assists and Brayden Schenn ended the game with 3 assists in a losing cause.

Brandon got great production from several of their key performers. Scott Glennie had 3 goals and an assist. Mark Stone had 2 goals and 4 assists. Shayne Wiebe had a goal and 2 assists. The other goal came from Matt MacKay.

Just a note that in the first period Schenn was giving a standing ovation by the crowd in Brandon. A great touch from the fans there as they honoured a player that did so much for that city.

The Blades have a chance to bounce back tonight as they host Medicine Hat. I will try and get a full preview up later this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Another Blades jersey to debut

Saskatoon's denim, cowboy jersey will be well remembered for years to come. The Blades wore those jerseys for PBR night earlier this season.

Now, they are set to debut another jersey for Telemiracle on March 4th against the Kootenay Ice.

This version is much more tame, and is actually quite nice. A very old school look to them:

The uniforms will be auctioned off after the game, with proceeds going to Telemiracle. That event runs March 4th and 5th in Saskatoon.

Blades in Brandon tonight

The Saskatoon Blades start a tough stretch of games in Brandon tonight to battle the Wheat Kings. Saskatoon is now riding an eleven game winning streak. That number is two short of a club record.

The Wheat Kings are also making a push of their own in the Eastern Conference standings, having won 7 of their last 10 games.

Following tonights game the Blades are home to Medicine Hat tomorrow night. They then hit the road and take on Kootenay and Medicine Hat this weekend.

Steven Stanford will more than likely be the goalie to start tonights game. Adam Morrison has recently rejoined the team and could see his first start in 3 weeks as early as tomorrow night.

The team is also without Brent Benson, who stayed home in Saskatoon with a sprained left knee.

As always, you can check out tonights game on 92.9 The Bull.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Benson injury update as Blades head to Manitoba

Some bad news today for the Saskatoon Blades. Third line centre Brent Benson is not with the team as they are on the bus to Brandon. He left last game against Moose Jaw in the first period after tweaking a knee.

Now, it looks like the 17 year old will be out 2 to 4 weeks with a sprained ligament in his left knee. Lukas Sutter and Ryan Olsen will fill Benson's role as the third line centre with Darian Dziurzynski and Matej Stransky.

I guess things could have been worse for Benson and the team will be pleased to get him back into the lineup before the playoffs role around.

Some other lineup news has goaltender Adam Morrison back with the team. He has missed three weeks with mono. He missed 11 games in total.

Tyler Oswald has since been back to Manitoba to re-join his Midget AAA club. He didn't appear in any games as Steven Stanford started all the games in Morrison's absence.

The Blades take on the Brandon Wheat Kings tomorrow night, in the return of Brayden Schenn to his old stomping grounds.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Late goal gives Blades 11th straight win

Marek Viedensky continued his red hot play, scoring 2 goals as the Blades won in Moose Jaw last night, 5-3.

The win is the 11th straight by the boys from Saskatoon.

Viedensky's second goal came with 1:38 seconds remaining, breaking a 3-3 tie at the time.

Jake Trask would hit the empty net to ice it, his second goal of the game as well.

Curtis Hamilton had the other tally for the Blades, a powerplay marker in the first period assisted by Brayden Schenn.

The Warriors got goals from Joey Kornelson, Quinton Howden and Cody Beach.

It was a penalty filled affair with the Blades going 2 for 6 on the night with the man advantage. Moose Jaw went 0 for 6. There was also a pair of fights. Dziuryzynski vs. Lyon and Sutter vs. Erhardt.

Steven Stanford made 26 saves to earn his 32nd win of the year. The Blades outshot the Warriors 48-29.

Next up for Saskatoon a trip to Brandon for Tuesday night. The return of Brayden Schenn to his old stomping grounds.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Blades extend win streak to 10 games

The Blades are yet to lose with Brayden Schenn in the lineup.

That record spans 10 games.

The latest win was last night over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, and once again Schenn played a big roll.

The Saskatoon-native had the Blades first 2 goals en route to a 7-2 win in front of nearly 6,000 people at CUC last night.

The Blades also got 2 goals from Chris Collins, along with singles from Tegan Zahn, Darren Dietz and Darian Dziurzysnki.

The Raiders got goals from Todd Fiddler and Igor Revenko on a beautiful end to end rush late in the first period.

Steven Stanford wasn't overly busy, making 25 saves to grab his 31st win of the year. On special teams the Blades were very impressive again. They went 3/5 on the PP.

The Blades now hit the road for Moose Jaw tonight. That game goes at 7:00 from the Crushed Can. It can be heard on 92.9 The Bull starting at 6:30 with the pregame show.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Another Division Battle

The Saskatoon Blades welcome the Prince Albert Raiders to town tonight.

Saskatoon is coming off of a 6-5 overtime win over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday night. That win was the 9th straight for Saskatoon.

They are still yet to lose with Brayden Schenn in the lineup, going 9-0 over that stretch.

The Prince Albert Raiders come in at 7th place in the Eastern Conference. They are battling to stay in that playoff race with the likes of the Swift Current Broncos and the Brandon Wheat Kings.

It's the 8th and final meeting between these two teams.

Here are my keys to the game.

For Prince Albert

- Shut down Brayden Schenn. He has 21 points in 9 games in a Blades uniform. If they can keep him off the board somehow that will definitely help them out.

- Pepper the Blades goal….get as many shots as possible. We saw it last game, the Blades were outplayed and almost lost while the Warriors did a great job throwing pucks on net.

- And stay out of the penalty box. They have to be aggressive, but smart. The Blades PP is red hot in the last 9 games and the Raiders can’t give Saskatoon chances.

For Saskatoon

- Get traffic on Eric Williams. The 17 year old goalie isn’t used to playing an everyday role. Make him work extra hard tonight.

- Play with an edge to their game. These teams are division rivals and the Blades have to play physical, especially on the forecheck.

- And clean up the defensive zone play. Last game was a struggle for them as they were caught running around a bit. Simplify things a little bit more as they try and get out of their own zone.

Puck drop goes at 7:05 from CUC. You can check out the game live on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pregame show at 6:30.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blades Survive Howden Hatty

It wasn't quite the Bruins and Canadiens, but it was still an entertaining matchup at the Credit Union Centre tonight.

Saskatoon survived a massive performance from the Moose Jaw Warriors top line to come out on top 6-5 in overtime.

The fireworks started early with Darian Dziurzynski taking on Cody Beach in a fight just over 2 minutes in. Beach is 6'6 and Z did a pretty good job standing in their with the big man.

Saskatoon then got on the scoreboard as Jake Trask scored his 19th of the season at 6:24. Not even 4 minutes later the Warriors tied it up with Spencer Edwards scoring.

Off the ensuing draw at center ice Jordan Wyton fought Alex Elliott for the Blades. A pretty even matchup once again, with Elliott earning the take down.

Josh Nicholls would get his team leading 27th, not even 3 minutes later to regain the lead for Saskatoon 2-1. Once again Moose Jaw answered back as Quinton Howden got his 29th with under 2 minutes to play in the period.

2-2 after 1.

Howden jumped back on the board to start the 2nd period at 4:42.

Saskatoon capitalized on their 4th powerplay of the night at 15:30 of the 2nd period as Brayden Schenn tapped a puck into an empty net.

Up until that point the Blades had a ton of sloppy play and were being outworked and outplayed by Moose Jaw.

That powerplay goal seemed to be the thing to wake them up.

Marek Viedensky scored 1:13 into the third to put Saskatoon in front 4-3. Stefan Elliott scored on the powerplay not even a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

Once again it was Moose Jaw bouncing back as Spencer Edwards scored his 23rd of the year and 2nd of the night at 6:10.

Saskatoon did a good job limiting the Moose Jaw damage following that goal, until Moose Jaw had a chance on a 4 on the 3 powerplay in the dying minutes. Dylan Hood sent a rocket, backhand pass across the crease to a wide open Quinton Howden, who buried his 3rd goal of the night to tie the game at 17:48.

Neither team could get that late leading goal, so the teams headed to OT tied at 5.

Dylan Hood ended his night on a sour note as he was the goat in OT. He took a hooking penalty on Stefan Elliott that put the Blades up a man.

They didn't waste much time.

Stefan Elliott sent a quick pass to Brayden Schenn near the RW circle in the Warriors end, and Schenn didn't miss. He wired the one timer high glove side on Thomas Heemskerk, giving the Blades the 6-5 OT win.

Steven Stanford was busy, making 41 saves for his 30th win of the year. The Blades PP was also busy, going 3 for 7 in the win.

As mentioned, Moose Jaw was led by their top line.

Quinton Howden (3G, 1A), Spencer Edwards (2G, 1A) and Dylan Hood (0G, 5A) combined for 12 points and accounted for all 5 MJ goals.

Brayden Schenn was no slouch though for Saskatoon, he had 2 goals and 2 assists for another 4 point night. Schenn now has 21 points in 9 games with Saskatoon.

Jake Trask had a goal and 2 assists and Stefan Elliott was 1 + 1.

The win extends Saskatoon's winning streak to 9, all since the debut of Brayden Schenn.

The teams will meet again on Saturday night, in Moose Jaw. Each team has won 2 of the first 4 games between these teams this year....all 4 wins have been on home ice between the teams.

But, before that the Blades will host Prince Albert. That game goes on Friday night at 7:05 from CUC.

Other notes: Adam Morrison is back with the team. The goaltender has been battling mono for over 2 weeks. He is expected to visit the doctor on Friday to be tested. If he clears the testing he will begin full practices with the team. If all goes well, don't be shocked if he starts in goal some time next week, possibly next Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blades host Moose Jaw Warriors

The Saskatoon Blades play host to the second best team in the division tonight as the Moose Jaw Warriors are in town.

The Warriors are 5th overall in the Eastern Conference, safely in position to make the playoffs. But, this team has had their struggles over the last few games. They have lost 3 games in a row (one in overtime), giving up 16 goals in those 3 losses.

It should be interesting to see how Moose Jaw measures up to the Blades these days, as the two teams haven't met in a while. This is the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams, with Moose Jaw winning 2 of the first 3, both down South.

Steven Stanford will start in goal for the Blades, and I would imagine Thomas Heemskerk starts for the Warriors.

Here are my keys to the game:

For Moose Jaw

- Get off to a quick start. This team has been beaten pretty handly the last 2 games. They need to start this one off on the right foot.

- Don’t back down physically. This is one team that can outmatch the Blades in the size department. But are they willing to pay the price physically?

- And lock it down defensively. They have given up 16 goals in their last 3 games. That starts with defensive zone coverage and taking away chances in key areas on the ice.

For Saskatoon

- Have quick puck movement out of the defensive zone. Moose Jaw is a big physical team, avoiding their forecheck will be key.

- Play a puck possession game. Make the Warriors chase you. The Blades did that against the Hurricanes last game and it makes it much easier to tire out the opposition and draw penalties.

- And get a consistent push from all 4 lines. The depth scoring continues to shine for this hockey club. It has to continue tonight.

Game time goes at 7:05 from the Credit Union Centre. If you can't make it to the game, you can listen live on 92.9 The Bull, starting with the pregame show at 6:30.

Blades hold steady in CHL rankings

An 8 game winning streak hasn't been enough to bump Saskatoon up higher than 3rd place in the CHL Rankings.

The Blades remain in 3rd place, behind the Mississauga St. Mike's Majors (2nd) and the Saint John Sea Dogs (1st).

The Red Deer Rebels held steady at 5th place on the list, the same position as last week.

The only other WHL team in the rankings is Portland at 8th overall.

The Kootenay Ice were an honourable mention.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins CHL player of the week

12 points in 3 games sure goes a long way. That's what 17 year old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins did last week, good enough to earn him player of the week honours across Canada.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Schenn's Gordie Howe hattrick; Blades clinch playoff spot

It was another very entertaining and thorough victory for the Saskatoon Blades last night against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Jake Trask scored 14 seconds into the game, and that would end up being all Saskatoon would need in the 5-0 win.

Saskatoon didn't sit back after the early goal, Darian Dziurzynski scored just over 7 minutes in to double the lead. Saskatoon would make it 3-0 after 1 period as Brayden Schenn scored his 7th of the year late in the period.

Once again Saskatoon kept pushing to start the period as Josh Nicholls scored shorthanded, his team leading 25th goal of the year, at :29 seconds.

At 8:03 of the 2nd Stefan Elliott finished off the scoring, roofing a high wrister passed the sprawling goaltender to cap off a great passing play on a delayed penalty.

There were 3 fights in the game. Teigan Zahn fought Neil Tarnasky in the 2nd period. In the 3rd, Brayden Schenn took on Cam Braes to cap off the Gordie Howe hattrick. Late in the game Dalton Thrower levelled his man cutting into the slot and Brody Sutter jumped in to fight Thrower.

Steven Stanford made 23 saves for the shutout.

With the win Saskatoon moved to 84 points on the year, clinching a playoff spot with 19 games left in the year.

Saskatoon now has a few days off before taking on the Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday here in Saskatoon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Blades host Lethbridge

The Saskatoon Blades welcome another team to the CUC tonight who are battling for a playoff spot.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes are coming off of a 4-3 loss in Prince Albert last night and are currently 10th overall in the Eastern Conference with 45 points. But, those 45 points have them only 2 back of the Raiders and Swift Current for the 8th and final playoff spot in the conference.

Someone new will be set to face this task head-on for the Blades.

17 year old Tyler Oswald is expected make his first career WHL start for Saskatoon.

Oswald has been up with the team for 2 weeks, backing up Steven Stanford with Adam Morrison out with mono.

It should be a big moment for the youngster from Sanford, Manitoba.

I will say it right now, Oswald doesn't have to win the game for the Blades tonight. He just can't "lose it". It will be fun to watch him during his big moment tonight.


According to the key's to the game on the Blades website, Steven Stanford will be back in goal tonight. It's a move that makes some sense considering how well he has played lately. Maybe after a couple days of thought Lorne decided to change his mind and go back to the 20 year old.

Sorry, no time for keys to the game today. I had a late night and an extremely early morning (3:15am) and won't have to time to post those today.

Game time goes at 7:05 from CUC. As always, you can check out the pregame show on 92.9 The Bull starting at 6:30.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blades score early and often to dump Pats

Many wondered if tonight would be a let down game for the Saskatoon Blades after a huge matchup with Red Deer last night.

Well, that notion was put to rest pretty early.

Captain Teigan Zahn took on Shayne Neigum only 15 seconds into the game. It was a good scrap, giving the edge to Zahn due to height and weight advantage as he landed a few massive blows.

That surely set a fire under the Blades.

They scored 3 goals within the first five minutes of the game and didn't look back. Those goals came from Marek Viedensky, Matej Stransky and Jake Trask.

The Pats did a good job hanging around after that before Jordan Weal scored a nice deflection goal at 13:16 of the 2nd period to cut the lead to 3-1.

But Saskatoon made sure they kept their foot on the gas. Duncan Siemens fired a shot past Damien Ketlo on the powerplay shortly after to restore the 3 goal lead. Just over a minute later Curtis Hamilton finished off a nice passing play with Brayden Schenn and Trask to make it 5-1 after 2 periods.

The teams traded goals in the third, Neigum for Regina and Trask again for Saskatoon. The final was 6-2.

Trask ended up with a two goals and an assist while Brayden Schenn had 4 assists.

Steven Stanford won for the 28th time this year, making 29 saves. He also had possibly the save of the year in the 2nd period off of Saskatoon-native Chandler Stephenson. Stanford slid from his left to his right, stacking the pads as Stephenson thought he had a wide open net.

Both Pats goalies had action in this one. Matt Hewitt was pulled quickly after the Blades two first goals, but would return in the third period. Hewitt made 10 saves on 13 shots. Ketlo made 26 saves on 29 shots.

Saskatoon now has a day off to rest up before returning to practice on Friday. The Blades host Lethbridge on Saturday night.

Blades hit the ice again, host Regina

It's the back half of two games in two nights for the Saskatoon Blades tonight.

The Regina Pats are in town for the 4th of 6 matchups between these teams this year.

The Pats have played the Blades tough so far this season, winning 2 of the first 3 games. The latest was on January 15th. It was a 4-3 final as the Pats got an excellent goaltending performance from Matt Hewitt to get the shootout win. Hewitt made 59 saves in that game.

The other games this season between these teams were a 6-2 win for Saskatoon at home and a 5-2 win for the Pats at home.

Another reason why this could be an interesting battle for the Blades is that it falls into that ever important "let down" game category. A game following a massive matchup that can exhaust players and coaches mentally and physically.

Last night was exactly that for Saskatoon, earning a 7-5 win over the rival Red Deer Rebels.

Meanwhile the Pats have had a few days off, their last game coming on Saturday night a 4-3 win over Moose Jaw in the Provincial capital.

Here are my keys to the game:

For Regina

- Capitalize on the first few minutes. Regina might have a chance to catch the Blades back on their heels to start this one and are definitely the more rested group.

- Jordan Weal needs to have a big game. He has almost twice as many points as any of his teammates. He needs to lead by example and do damage offensively.

- And be aggressive offensively with their defenseman. The Pats could be in for a tough night if they try and keep this low scoring. Try and create odd man rushes by having players like Myles Bell jump into the play.

For Saskatoon

- Clean up the play in the defensive zone. I don’t think the Blades coaching staff was too pleased with the defensive effort last night. They have to be crisper with their passing and avoid turnovers.

- Steven Stanford needs to be better here tonight. He has been getting this team win after win, but last night wasn’t the prettiest effort by him. He needs to re-focus.

- And avoid that “let down game”. It’s something that might get discussed a little bit too much, but the leaders and the coaches on this team need to have the Blades ready from the get go.

Game time goest at 7:05 from CUC. Hopefully another big crowd shows up after they turned out in cold conditions to get treated to a great hockey game last night.

You can listen in to the pregame show on 92.9 The Bull starting at 6:30.

Blades-Rebels fights from last night

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blades hold off the Rebels

It was cold outside, but that didn't stop it from heating up inside CUC tonight.

Ok, that was brutal.

Over 5000 fans braved the elements (-40 wind chills) tonight in Saskatoon and turned up to watch a battle of the two best teams in the WHL. The game didn't disappoint.

Things got started pretty quickly, and in a weird way. Saskatoon got on the board first at 7:03. The Blades were killing a penalty and Darian Dziurzynski fired a slap shot from past center ice. It snuck under the arm of Rebels goalie Darcy Kuemper and in.

It was very Cloutier-esque from the "best goalie in the WHL".

But a major credit to the Rebels, they bounced back on the powerplay 23 seconds later. Andrej Kudrna finished off a great saucer pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to even the game.

But Saskatoon pushed back. Brayden Schenn threw the puck on net and it bounced off a skate and in at 8:15 to put the Blades up 2-1. It was Schenns 5th of the season, 4th as a Blade and 1st on home ice.

That's when the rough stuff started. Right after the next faceoff Dziurzynski took on Josh Cowen. Cowen of course was the center of controversy after his sucker punch on Stefan Elliott that earned him an 8 game suspension.

Cowen refused to undo his chin strap before the fight, something Z was clearly not happy about.

Both players landed big shots and it was basically a draw.

Then it was Lukas Sutter's turn to answer the bell. Sutter of course drew the ire of the Rebels after his fight with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on New Year's Day. Locke Muller challenged Sutter right off the faceoff and the two went at it. Once again it was pretty much a draw.

Tyson Ness would tie it up at 2 at 11:20 of the first period and that would be the score after 20.

The Rebels jumped out in front for the first time when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins capitalized on a 3 on 2 rush for the Rebels, sliding a quick wrister under Steven Stanford at 4:24 of the second.

Dalton Thrower tied it up at 9:44 of the second, jumping up into the rush and beating Kuemper on a 2 on 1.

As the 2nd period came to an end the Blades were facing some major challenges. They were down with the Rebels enjoying a 5 on 3. It was the turning point of the game as the Blades killed it off, and not only that, drew a penalty of their own.

They started the 3rd period on the powerplay and made it count.

Once again it was Brayden Schenn. He threw a soft shot on goal, through a crowd and past Kuemper.

That goal came at :58 seconds of the third. 16 seconds later Saskatoon extended the lead. This time it was Josh Nicholls with his 25th of the year.

Once again the Rebels bounced back. At 4:25 Colin Archer jumped into the rush and fired a shot high over Steven Stanford's glove to cut the lead down to one.

The boxing match continued as the Blades scored next. This time it was Chris Collins. His 15th of the year came at 14:55 to extend the lead back to 2 goals.

The Rebels continued to battle and fight, scoring again, this time at 16:20. It came from Dalton Siwak.

The Rebels put on the pressure in the last few minutes, pulling the goalie with just under 2 minutes remaining. But the Blades did a great job blocking shots, and keeping the chances from the outside.

Saskatoon won a battle in the defensive zone, Schenn skated the puck out over the blueline, hit Jake Trask with a long pass, and the right winger hit the open net to ice it.


What a great game to watch and be a part of.

Hopefully the fans appreciated the effort of the guys tonight and they continue to show up for games down the stretch.

Les Lazaruk did some brief calculations post game and it looks like the Blades are now only 6 points away from clinching a playoff spot. Yes, already. Truly impressive.

But they have to keep their focus as the Regina Pats roll into town tomorrow night. It's a team that has given the Blades some trouble all year. And it truly is in one of those "let down" scenarios.

Game time goes at 7:05 from CUC. Check out the pregame show on 92.9 The Bull starting at 6:30.

Blades Host Red Deer!

It's being billed as one of the potential games of the year.

The Red Deer Rebels are in town to take on the Blades. It's a rematch of the New Year's Day Debacle in Saskatoon. That game involved a fight between Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Lukas Sutter as well as a nasty sucker punch by Josh Cowen on Blades star Stefan Elliott.

Hopefully the -40 degree temperatures don't keep too many people away from the CUC tonight, because this game should be great.

Hell, even if there are no fireworks and cooler heads prevail, these two teams still have a lot to play for.

The Blades remain first in the Eastern Division, Eastern Conference and the entire WHL, but the Rebels are providing that healthy competition that no teams have been able to this year.

The Rebels are 11-0-1 in their last 12 games and sit only 3 points behind Saskatoon in the conference and the league.

They should have a ton of energy in their game tonight. Saskatoon will have to match that and let their higher overall skill level do it's thing.

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

For Red Deer

- Get balanced scoring. The Blades might be the deepest offensive team in the league, Red Deer has to get some depth scoring to try and match that.

- Have good transition defence. The forwards are going to have backcheck hard and provide that extra defensive help to pick up the late man coming in offensively.

- And slow down this Blades powerplay. It’s clicking at nearly 35 percent in the last 5 games. If anyone can slow it down it’s the Rebels, who have the best penalty kill rank in the league.

For Saskatoon

- Get a good start. Red Deer has the firepower to strike early and often. That first goal is big.

- Watch Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I would expect Duncan Siemens to be the man in charge of that tonight. Limiting the league’s assist leader is going to be very important.

- And stay focused. Last game had a ton of fireworks, the Blades can’t be after revenge.

Game time goes at 7:05 tonight from the Credit Union Centre. If you can't make it to the game, or aren't brave enough to take on the elements, you can listen live on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pregame show at 6:30.