SASKATOON-1 PRINCE ALBERT-0
Prince Albert leads series 2-1
“You’re not in trouble until you lose on home ice” which is an old playoff saying that was echoed by Kirby Dach as he spoke to the media following a huge Game 3 win at the Sasktel Centre. The Blades hopes were getting slim after losing the first two games in Prince Albert but as the saying goes, they hadn’t lost on home ice yet and now we have a series.
A feisty tight checking affair opened this game up. Back and forth with few shots for the first four minutes until Kirby Dach struck again. A good shift down in the Prince Albert end by the line of Dach, Ryan Hughes and Riley McKay created some space for Nolan Kneen to get a shot through and it was Dach who was battling in front and found the rebound to make it 1-0 for Saskatoon with his fifth of the playoffs.
On the goal, Riley McKay and Zach Hayes got tangled up and the teams then skated 4-on-4. Nolan Maier’s best save of the period came off of a 3-on-1 rush on a shot by Dante Hannoun.
The Blades got the lone power play of the period but were unable to generate much.
A back and forth second period probably falls under “entertaining for the fans but too entertaining for the coaches.” There were long stretches without a whistle but no goals came of it.
Prince Albert carried the play for the most part but could not convert on any,. Their best chance probably came on a Noah Gregor wraparound that the Blades were able to get a stick on and clear the puck.
Cole Fonstad was able to slip the Blades defense and draw a Nolan Kneen hooking penalty near the end of the second period, but it was Kirby Dach getting the Blades’ best chance as he was sprung on a partial breakaway and got the puck around Ian Scott but not the post. The second period ended 1-0 for Saskatoon.
“There was moments in the hockey game where I thought we just tried to do too much with the puck instead of just simplifying our game you have to play a very flawless game against that squad over there if you want to give yourself a chance to win and we strayed off the page at times from what makes us work,” said Blades head coach Mitch Love
In the third period it was very similar to the second – a tight checking game that resembled playoff hockey. Neither team really had a Grade A scoring chance and Ian Scott’s best save of the night came on a Blades power play where he read the play and slid across to make a pad stop on Hughes. Prince Albert had a chance with 20 seconds left in regulation but it grazed the post and sealed the deal for the Blades win.
Saskatoon was in defense-first mode with 2:16 to play as Kirby Dach, Chase Wouters and Eric Florchuk – the Blades top three centremen went on the ice and finished the game. Nolan Maier made 26 saves for the shutout.
“Yeah I need an oxygen tank after that, it was a long one but at the end of the day you do it cause you’re doing it for the guys on the bench that wish they could be out there and sacrificing their body and you have to go out there and put your best foot forward and make sure the puck stays out of your net,” said Dach on the end of the game.
Game 4 goes Wednesday night in Saskatoon. 7,641 Blades and Raiders fans took in Game 3 which made for a great atmosphere.