It wasn’t a masterpiece, but the Saskatoon Blades will take the win and the two points.
“We’ll take the win. There’s too many things to say that, probably, I didn’t like,” said head coach Dean Brockman after the Blades nipped the young Red Deer Rebels 3-2 in front of 3,169 fans at SaskTel Centre. “Our effort was just okay. We thought it was going to be easy. I didn’t think we were mentally prepared, either, to play tonight.
“You’re going to have those games, especially at this time of the year when everybody wonders where they’re going (because of the upcoming WHL trade deadline on Wednesday) or if they’re staying or whatever the case may be. But, good teams find a way to win those games and good for us.”
Defenceman Jake Kustra snuck in from the blue-line to the lip of the crease to the right of Red Deer goaltender Riley Lamb and steered in a seeing-eye backhand pass from Braylon Shmyr for the game-winning goal at 10:35 of the third period. Shmyr opened the scoring, giving him six multi-point games in a row. Brad Goethals evened the score late in the second period after Saskatoon products Reese Johnson and Alex Morozoff tallied against the “what, me worry” Bridge City Bunch.
The Blades are a good team…right now. The victory was their sixth straight…the longest winning streak for the franchise since the second half of the 2012-13 season when Saskatoon’s MasterCard Memorial Cup host team captured 18-in-a-row. Their overall record of 20-17-3 fives them 43 points, tied with idle Regina for the first wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference…and with a game in hand.
After stopping 63 of 69 shots in a 6-3 loss to visiting Moose Jaw back on Wednesday, Red Deer goaltender Riley Lamb only faced 27 shots while Nolan Maier stopped 21 of 23 Rebels shots. For the 16-year-old Yorkton product, he has been in goal for all six consecutive Bridge City Bunch triumphs and all of the victories in a run in which the Blue and Gold have won nine of their last 10 outings.
The Blades return to action Saturday as another Central Division team invades SaskTel Centre. The Kootenay ICE will play their first of four head-to-head meetings against Saskatoon. Game time is 7:05 p.m. with the broadcast at 6:30 on 92-9, THE BULL. Following is the official game summary from the WHL...
Red Deer Rebels 2 at Saskatoon Blades 3 - Status: Final Friday, January 5, 2018 - SaskTel Centre - Saskatoon, SK
2nd Period-2, Red Deer, Johnson 12 8:44. 3, Red Deer, Morozoff 1 (Johnson, Barteaux), 13:51 (PP). 4, Saskatoon, Goethals 9 (Hebig, Rubinchik), 16:42. Penalties-Goethals Sas (delay of game), 13:15; Hebig Sas (inter. on goaltender), 14:07.