Maier Turns Aside 40 Shots as Blades Slip Past Rebels
Normally a 40-save performance would suggest a goaltender had a busy night of facing high quality shots.
That wasn't necessarily the case Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium, where Saskatoon Blades netminder Nolan Maier saw the vast majority of the pucks aimed his way.
To his credit, Maier made his biggest - and most spectacular - save for the game's final minute, when he slid across to rob Arshdeep Bains of what would have been a tying goal.
Just seconds later, Kyle Crnkovic scored into an empty Red Deer net to secure a 3-1 Blades victory in a WHL contest viewed by 3,067 fans.
"Our guys played a fairly hard game," said Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk. "Their goalie made some good saves. We needed to get some traffic in front of the net more than we did, we made it easy on him at times.
"But there were certainly some chances there to be had. Our game wasn't perfect but for the most part I thought our effort was there."
The Rebels led 1-0 after one period on a man advantage goal by Ben King, his 15th of the season and league leading 10th on the power play. Arshdeep Bains fed King with a nifty backhand pass through the crease and the veteran centre found the top of the net from low in the left circle.
But that was it for the home side, who watched Trevor Wong pull the Blades even in the second period and notch the winner in the third.
Wong accepted a cross-ice pass from Brandon Lisowsky and beat Rebels netminder Connor Ungar over the shoulder 6:31 into the middle frame, then, from the low slot, whipped home a behind-the-net offering from Kyle Crnkovic midway through the final period.
The Rebels had most of the puck possession and outshot the visitors 41-21, but couldn't bury as Maier had them perplexed. It was one of those nights.
"You always wish you had one more shot when you're one goal short," said Konowalchuk. "At times we were slow to get shots off and get more pucks to the net."
The Blades did an excellent job of backchecking - as did the Rebels - and blocking shots.
"We talk about shooting but at the end of the day the players still have to see the play. The next thing you know you're burying shots in the shin pads," said Konowalchuk.
"The players have to make the plays. We try to keep teaching them the right plays and we have good players who have been able to score goals through the early part of the season. Tonight they didn't find the back of the net.
"I think the biggest thing was (lack of) traffic. We had some good shots but there wasn't anybody in front of the net."
The Rebels are right back at it Saturday night when the Regina Pats and 16-year-old phenom Connor Bedard pay a visit to the Centrium.
"We just have to make sure we come back tomorrow with the same effort and maybe just a bit more," said Konowalchuk.
Notable: The Rebels were one-for-three on the power play, the Blades zero-for-two . . . The three stars: (1) Wong, (2) Maier and (3) Rebels forward Dallon Melin, who had four shots.
Images from this story
Red Deer Rebels defenceman Christoffer Sedoff (right) vs. the Saskatoon Blades
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