Allen Douglas

Blades take stranglehold on series with Warriors

SASKATOON- 3 MOOSE JAW -2

Saskatoon leads series 3-0.

The Saskatoon Blades are one win away from the second round as they now have a three games to none lead on the Moose Jaw Warriors. Two of the three games have been decided by one goal while the other was technically two albeit with an empty-net-goal. With that being said, Saskatoon has a stranglehold on this series. Blades Head Coach Mitch Love was impressed by a strong Blades effort.

Brayden Tracey (photo-Marc Smith)

“It was our most competitive game of the series, for the most part we played 60 minutes. We had a few mistakes that lead to some of their opportunities and goals, we got to sharpen up those details, but I really liked our work ethic and we’re going to have to bring that again tomorrow and be our absolute best to try and close out a series here,” Love said.

Moose Jaw was provided a boost into their lineup as star rookie Brayden Tracey dressed for the first time this series. The first period was the best start Saskatoon has had hitting two posts in the first five minutes. The Blades opened the scoring with just under two minutes to go in the period as rookie forward Kyle Crnkovic got his first career playoff goal.

Saskatoon was pressuring and Dawson Davidson found Crnkovic in front to make it 1-0 Saskatoon. Warriors forward Yegor Buyalski left the game in the first after a hit from Nolan Kneen. Shots in the first were 13-7 Saskatoon.

The Warriors didn’t generate much in the second period but were able to make their best chance of the period count. The Blades over-pursued with three guys on one side on the backcheck as Carson Denomie found a wide-open Keenan Taphorn who beat Nolan Maier for his second of the playoffs. Saskatoon was able to bounce back a few minutes later on a nice passing play.

Kneen got the puck at the point and found Ryan Hughes on the boards who made a hard pass right off the stick of Kirby Dach. The draft eligible forward then tipped in his second of the playoffs. Shots in the frame were 19-4 Saskatoon.

Max Gerlach (photo-Rik Fedyck)

The Blades opened the period on a short power play, but nothing was doing. Riley McKay and Cameron Sterling had the first fight of the series, a good-spirited tilt as both players got their shots in. The Warriors tied the game on a broken play as Maier wasn’t able to corral a shot on the side and a Blades defender cleared it right to Denomie who tied the game.

For the second straight game the third period tie was broken by Max Gerlach.  Tracey cleared the puck from his own end, but it went over the glass behind the Blades bench. Not many reacted until the refs escorted Tracey to the box.

Just 30 seconds into the Blades power play, Josh Brook was pressured around his net and he fired a backhand into the stands to give the Blades a five on three. On the two-man advantage, Dach was able to get around Jett Woo and find Gerlach in the slot as he got his fourth goal of the playoffs. That held up to be the winner as the Blades are now up 3-0.

“It came down to the wire and they gave us a five-on-three. When you’re given that in the playoffs eventually one of them is going to go in because you know if we give them that chance they’re going to score and bury us. We had to bear down and put one in and came out with the win.” Blades Forward Kirby Dach said about closing out the game.

Saskatoon will look to sweep the series tomorrow night as Game 4 goes in Moose Jaw. Blades head coach Mitch Love noted his team will have to “play their best game of the season,” to get the win and sweep.

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