Crnkovic Becomes WHL Points Leader, Win-Streak Reaches Four
SASKATOON, SK - Alternate captain Kyle Crnkovic scored four points, Brandon Lisowsky netted two goals, and the Saskatoon Blades dominated the WHL's best Winnipeg ICE 7-2 on Pride Night at SaskTel Centre.
The victory comes a day after defeating the Medicine Hat Tigers 9-2 at SaskTel Centre.
The Bridge City Bunch exploded for four first-period goals with Crnkovic, Lisowsky, Jayden Wiens and Noah Boyko each lighting the lamp. Crnkovic and Lisowsky each had the second-period markers for the Blades while Vaughn Watterodt added one in the third.
On top of his two goals, Crnkovic also had two helpers in the contest, making him the league leader in scoring with 57 points.
San Jose Sharks prospect Tristen Robins led the assists category having four helpers, pushing him into third in league scoring. Trevor Wong and Egor Sidorov each had two, while Noah Boyko, Charlie Wright, Jayden Wiens and Tyler Parr each had one.
Blades goaltender Nolan Maier was nearly flawless between the pipes, stopping 28 of 30 shots en route to his 17th win of the season, helping the Blades improve to 21-14-1-1 on the campaign. This win pushes Maier into ninth place on the all-time wins record with 108, tying him with current Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Jones.
ICE netminder Daniel Houser made 17 saves on 24 shots as Winnipeg falls to 29-6-2-0 on the year.
Saskatoon wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Just under five minutes in, a shot from Wright was deflected in front by Wiens as the Blades took the early lead.
The Blades added another shortly after as a Boyko pass found Crnkovic in the slot. The 19-year-old Chestermere, AB product put the moves on Houser to give Saskatoon a 2-0 lead.
Saskatoon continued to pour on the goals as Lisowsky and Boyko netted markers just 44 seconds apart. NHL Draft-eligible Lisowsky took a feed from Sidorov behind the net to capitalize on his 20th of the season, while the former Lethbridge Hurricane finished off a tic-tac-toe play to wrap up a relentless first period of play.
Winnipeg and Saskatoon went back and forth in the second, but the ICE broke the goose egg midway through as Jack Finley got Winnipeg on the board.
Saskatoon rebounded with their fifth of the night thanks to Lisowsky's second, regaining the four-goal lead.
The ICE would get another one after the puck took an odd bounce off the corner boards which fooled Maier and landed on the tape of Skyler Bruce who put it into the open net. Any bit of momentum was quickly thrown to the side as Crnkovic batted a loose puck on a cross-ice pass to make it 6-2.
Tensions were running high in third, but the Blades kept their cool as Watterodt netted his second of the year to give the Blades a commanding five-goal lead.
With time winding down, Rhett Rhinehart lined up ICE forward Connor Geekie as he was crossing the blue line. That was when the 6-foot-4 defender gave reason for his nickname 'Rhino', and sent Geekie flying into the sideboards. Rhinehart took a two-minute charging penalty, and after a short scrum, Geekie recollected himself and finished the game unscathed.
The play summed up Saskatoon's weekend as a whole, combining for 16 goals and stretching their win streak to four games.
Saskatoon heads back to Alberta on Tuesday and Wednesday night to take on the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They're back home at SaskTel Centre next weekend to play host to the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday and Sunday afternoon.
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