Blades, Pats set aside on-ice animosity
Blades 4, Pats 2
Cory Wolfe, The StarPhoenix
Published: Monday, February 25, 2008
Given the recent bad blood between the Saskatoon Blades and Regina Pats, many observers expected gloves to be optional equipment Saturday at Credit Union Centre.
That wasn't the case.
The teams stuck to hockey and the Blades dumped the East-leading Pats 4-2 in front of 4,627 patrons. The principal mischief-maker, Saskatoon forward Mike Reich, watched from the press box and nary a fight erupted on the ice.
Saskatoon goalie Braden Holtby hangs on to this point shot in the stomach with Pats' Colten Teubert in tight
Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix
"I don't think they were looking for it either," said Pats assistant coach Terry Perkins. "We had a couple of games in a row where there were some melees, but that's in the past. Probably not having Mike Reich on the ice (helped avoid a repeat). He seems to want to get things started all the time -- I guess because he can't do anything else right out there."
Reich served a one-game suspension Saturday. The sentence stemmed from a fight-filled match Feb. 1 in Regina. The Blades and Pats were fined $1,500 each, plus an additional $250 each for a goaltender scrap between Saskatoon's Braden Holtby and Regina's Linden Rowat. Reich's shenanigans included penning an offensive message on his stick.
Blades coach-GM Lorne Molleken didn't defend the latter action, but he did defend his player's style.
"Mike Reich, in every game that we've played the Regina Pats, has done a tremendous job," said Molleken. "It's funny that (Perkins) would make a comment like that because I know (Pats head coach) Curtis (Hunt) wouldn't.
"We played against Mike Reich when he was a Regina Pat and he was a pain in the ass to play against. For their assistant coach to make a comment like that, it goes in this ear and right out the other ear. It was a mutual agreement between myself and the league that (Reich) wouldn't play (Saturday) so that Terry Perkins wouldn't get upset."
Yes, the only war Saturday involved words. Western Hockey League brass threatened hefty fines to prevent things from getting out of hand. Blades captain Colton Gillies also pitched another theory for why Saturday's game was different than the previous three brouhahas with Regina.
"No one wanted to fight Klotzy (Saskatoon forward Garrett Klotz)," Gillies said with a toothless grin. "He's too tough. He's a 235-pound man and they know what he can do."
Klotz got the better of Pats forward Josh Elder in the Feb. 1 meeting, a 6-2 Saskatoon win.
Despite the absence of fisticuffs, Saturday's game wasn't without sins -- and the Blades made the Pats pay dearly for theirs. Saskatoon scored on four of its first four power plays. Gillies and defenceman Jyri Niemi each potted a pair. Furthermore, Saskatoon penalty killers stymied the WHL's third-ranked power play as Regina went 0-for-4.
Holtby made 24 saves for the Blades (24-33-3-4), who have won three in a row and six of their last eight.
"The guys are playing with a lot of pride right now and we're playing some real good hockey," said Molleken. "These young guys are feeling good about themselves and everybody is contributing."
Kirt Hill and Tim Kraus scored for the Pats (37-21-4-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes visit Credit Union Centre on Tuesday.
BLADE BITS: Blades D Sam Klassen registered three assists Saturday. . . . D Tanner Sohn, a 16-year-old call-up from Medicine Hat, saw his first action with the Blades. . . . The Pats used G Damien Ketlo of the BCHL's Prince George Spruce Kings to back up Rowat, who made 20 saves. Martensville product Jeff Bosch is nursing a groin injury. . . . During the first intermission, Blades president Jack Brodsky honoured former StarPhoenix sports editor Doug McConachie by presenting him with a plaque. McConachie retired Feb. 15 after 45 years in the newspaper business.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008