By Les Lazaruk
With the WHL Trade Deadline in the rearview mirror, the Medicine Hat Tigers were quicker to focus on what was in front of them Wednesday evening than what the Saskatoon Blades were.
The Bengals scored twice in the first six minutes and skated to a 3-2 victory before 2,709 fans at SaskTel Centre.
Two Medicine Hat newcomers were part of the fast start. Elijah Brown assisted on Gary Haden’s opening goal while Bryan Lockner scored the 2-0 tally. Brown was acquired Tuesday from Seattle while Lockner was part of the Deadline Day curtain-raising deal…a three-way transaction that also included the Bridge City Bunch and Regina.
“It was just one of those things…(new) players aren’t accustomed, (guys who have been here) didn’t know if they were packing their bags (Wednesday) or what they were doing,” said Blades head coach Dean Brockman about his team’s listless effort. “You try and throw the ‘no excuse’ (explanation) in the tank, but I believe it was there and that’s just part of the game.”
David Quenneville scored, what turned out to be, the winning goal in the third period as the Tigers improved their Central Division-leading record to 23-16-3 and completed a four-game sweep of the season series over Saskatoon.
Thanks to the netminding of 16-year-old Nolan Maier, the Blue and Gold stayed within range of Medicine Hat. The Tigers out-shot the Bridge City Bunch 45-31. Braylon Shmyr and Chase Wouters tallied for the 21-19-3 Blades, who had a five-game, home-ice winning streak snapped.
Saskatoon hits the road for three games in the Central Division…Saturday in Red Deer, Sunday at Kootenay and Tuesday in Calgary.
Pacman Points – The Bridge City Bunch made four trades before the Wednesday deadline since their previous game on Sunday in Brandon. Three of four players acquired in those deals suited up with two of them seeing ice time…defenceman Dawson Davidson and forward Max Gerlach. Tyler Brown was the backup goaltender while forward Eric Florchuk arrived in Saskatoon after the game started, having flown in from Victoria after the trade was announced Wednesday afternoon.
Davidson and Gerlach became the 1,000th and 1,001st players to suit up for the Blades in their franchise history.
Maier had a personal 10-game winning streak ended with the loss.
Jordan Hollett made 29 saves in goal for the Bengals.
Shmyr and Josh Paterson extended their consecutive-game point streaks to nine games each. Shmyr has eight goals amongst 21 points in his run while Paterson has nine goals amongst 15 points in the last nine outings.
There were only six minor penalties assessed…four of them to the Blue and Gold. Neither team scored with the man advantage.
The Blades played with only 17 skaters…seven of them defencemen. Besides Florchuk not arriving in time, Saskatoon has three players sidelined by injury… right wingers Kirby Dach (Upper Body) and Caleb Fantillo (Lower Body), with Michael Farren joining them with an Upper Body hurt.
The Bridge City Bunch did reduce their roster by one player Wednesday, releasing 19-year-old forward Dryden Michaud.
Medicine Hat’s scratches were defenceman Linus Nassen (Upper Body) along with forwards Hayden Ostir (Upper Body), Mason Shaw (Lower Body) and Baxter Anderson (coaches decision). Shaw has yet to play this season.
The busiest individual shooters were Quenneville of the Tigers with 10 shots on goal while Mark Rassell and Ryan Jevne each had six shots. Shmyr topped the Blue and Gold with six shots on goal.
Medicine Hat won 33 of 61 faceoffs for the 60 minutes with James Hamblin winning 19 of 27 trips to the dot. Logan Christensen paced the Blades by capturing possession on 10 of 15 draws.