Late-season swing ends with Blades on outside, looking in

BRANDON – Newsflash: The Prince Albert Raiders finally lost a game!

However, it came far too late to be of any help to the Saskatoon Blades.

 

The hoped-for return to the WHL post-season came to an end Tuesday night in Western Manitoba when the Wheat Kings kept replying quickly to any bridge city bunch scoring in a 5-3 Brandon victory. A seventh loss in their last eight games means the 32-33-4 blue and gold can’t catch Prince Albert, trailing the Raiders by eight points with only three games remaining to play. The Raiders had a nine-game winning streak ended in a 2-1 shootout loss in Moose Jaw.

“We had some really good momentum shifts,” explained Blades head coach Dean Brockman. “(We) carried the play a lot of the time and then when we got rewarded for our work, we let off the pedal for that brief moment of time and they’d come down and score. That’s the cardinal sin. The next shift after a goal is so important and probably even the next one after that is even more important.”

Logan Christensen opened the game scoring, but Linden McCorrister erased that lead just 91 seconds later in the first period. In the second frame, Max Gerlach tied the score at 2-2, only to have former Blades defenceman Schael Higson put the Wheaties back out front just 2:18 later. In the third stanza, Eric Florchuk got Saskatoon back to within a goal at 4-3, but Evan Weinger potted the final marker of the night just 88 seconds afterwards.

Marcus Sekundiak and Ty Lewis added the other goals for Brandon, now 38-27-5 for the season…one point back of Regina for third place in the East Division and five points ahead of P.A. in the first wild-card post-season berth.

Once again, Dylan Myskiw was stellar in goal for the Wheat Kings, stopping 40 shots as the Bridge City Bunch held a 43-28 advantage on the shot clock.

The Blades continue on to Swift Current to tangle with the Broncos Wednesday.

Pacman Points – Since their last post-season appearance in 2013, Saskatoon has posted records of…16 wins, 51 losses, 5 extra time losses, 37 points in 2013-14; 19 W, 49 L, 4 XTL, 42 pts in 2014-15; 26-42-4-56 in 2015-16; 28-35-9-65 in 2016-17; 32-33-4-68 so far in 2017-18.

The Wheat Kings named bridge city bunch left winger Braylon Shmyr the game’s third star and let him skate an entire lap around his first home rink in the WHL following his final visit. Before being acquired at the trade deadline in January, 2016, Shmyr played 128 games for Brandon after being a first round pick in the 2013 Bantam Draft, 12th overall. However, the 20-year-old Calgary product had a six-game points streak snapped in the setback.

Another streak that was ended in the loss for the Blue and Gold was a four-game goal and points run for right winger Josh Paterson.

McCorrister’s goal gave the 19-year-old Brandon winger a six-game points streak (four goals and three assists).

Once again, 16-year-old Ethan Kruger was Myskiw’s backup as Logan Thompson continues to be unavailable to the Wheat Kings because of a lower-body injury. The Wheaties were also without rookie centre Jonny Hooker due to an upper-body injury while defenceman Ty Ettinger and left winger Ben McCartney were coaches decisions.

The Blades sat defenceman Randen Schmidt plus left wingers Tyler Lees and Alec Zawatsky. They also have affiliate players Zachary Ashton, a defenceman, and winger Ethan Mack with them heading to Swift Current. Some, possibly all, could see action over the final three Saskatoon games. Brockman did say Tyler Brown would be in goal against the Broncos Wednesday after rookie Nolan Maier started the last 10 games.

Saskatoon was 0-for-5 on the power play and killed off all four Brandon man-power advantages.

McCorrister paced all players with seven shots on goal for the Wheat Kings. Paterson and Kirby Dach each had five shots on goal to top the Bridge City Bunch, individually.

In the faceoff circle, the Blades won 33 of 61 draws, led by Chase Wouters who captured possession on 13 of 20 faceoffs. Stelio Mattheos won eight of 13 trips to the dot to be Brandon’s top man in the circle.

 

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Les Lazaruk

I’m a veteran of 38 years in the sports media, 37 of them in radio. The last 23 years have been in Saskatoon and the play-by-play voice of the Blades since the fall of 1994, having called over 1,700 games