Blades Edge Raiders in Feisty Friday Affair
Prince Albert, SK - The Saskatoon Blades emerged victorious after a nasty night of rivalry action in Prince Albert just edging out the Raiders by a score of 2-1. Saskatoon takes a 5-1-1-0 record against the Raiders and lift their season total back above the 500 mark improving to 34-33-3-1.
The Blades came out hard and heavy in what was a hostile affair on Friday night, beginning with Jake Kustra laying a thundering hit on Parker Kelly in the opening minute to set the tone for the evening. Kelly was no worse for wear as he managed to open the scoring on a short-handed tally in the last minute of the first period. The home team took the 1-0 lead into the first break, also leading on the shot clock 10-8.
Tempers boiled over in the second period with a combined 30 penalty minutes dished out including two fighting majors to each team. Jake Kustra tangled with a much larger Justin Nachbaur and Mark Rubinchik squared off with Cody McDonald for a second time this season. However, neither team managed to find the back of the net and the 1-0 score remained after 40 minutes.
The rough stuff continued in the third period with another 26 combined penalty minutes and one more fight; this time Cody McDonald invited Jake Kustra for a second dance. Eventually the tempers would prove costly for Prince Albert. With under six minutes to go and trailing by one the Blades found themselves on a two man advantage. Eric Florchuk won an offensive zone face-off cleanly to Max Gerlach in the slot who promptly ripped his 32nd goal of the season past Ian Scott.
Then with under two minutes to play and again on the power play, Chase Wouters took the puck off the wall and walked into the slot, faked to his backhand, and buried his 18th of the season to give the Blades their first lead of the hockey game at 2-1 with just 1:41 to play.
Saskatoon held on for the win despite a late push from the Raiders. The win is the 34th of the season for the Blades; two more than the Raiders adding a little salt to the wound of missing the playoffs behind the Raiders in points. Tyler Brown was outstanding once again for the blue & gold stopping 24/25 shots faced and going a perfect 5/5 on the penalty kill.
The feisty affair will certainly set the stage for one final hurrah on Saturday night as the Raiders pay a visit to SaskTel Centre. Game time is 7:00pm and doors open at 5:30pm for Fan Appreciation Night.
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Western Hockey League Stories from March 17, 2018
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