Blades survive Eberle show
Saskatoon escapes with win despite late comeback attempt of Pats' star centre
By Cory Wolfe, The StarPhoenix
October 22, 2009
Blades' Randy McNaught skips through the crease of Pats' goalie Damien Ketlo Wednesday while chasing a rebound in the first periodPhotograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix, The StarPhoenixBLADES 4, PATS 3
Sometimes Saskatoon hockey fans enjoy watching Jordan Eberle engineer comebacks.
Take for example, his efforts for Team Canada last season when he scored the game-tying goal against Russia with 5.4 seconds left in regulation.
But when Eberle is wearing a Regina Pats jersey, he's not a popular character at Credit Union Centre.
Not surprisingly, few fans among Wednesday's announced crowd of 4,404 cheered when Eberle scored with 1:51 remaining and cut the Saskatoon Blades' lead to 4-3. But after a bit of a sweat, the Blades' faithful could celebrate a sixth straight Saskatoon victory.
"We're a hard-working team and for us to continue winning, that's what has to keep happening," said Blades centre Travis Toomey, who scored a pair of breakaway goals, including a shorthanded tally that stood up as the game-winner.
"We're not going to all of a sudden stop working hard and just make plays to beat teams. We have to keep our hard work going. Last year taught us good lessons that way and we're going to keep it going."
Derek Hulak and Stefan Elliott also scored for the Blades (8-2-0-2) while goaltender Adam Morrison did some solid crease work. He held the fort on two breakaways by Eberle -- one a shorthanded effort in the first period and the other a penalty shot after Blades defenceman Duncan Siemens hooked Eberle down with seven minutes left in the second period.
In spite of being clutched and grabbed and stymied by Morrison, Eberle just kept attacking. He finished with a goal and an assist.
"That's why he's the best player in the league," Blades coach-GM Lorne Molleken said of Eberle, who has 11 goals in nine games this season. "He's a tremendous talent."
Eberle seemed unfazed by the extra attention he got from Saskatoon defenders, in particular defencemen Sam Klassen and Stefan Elliott and the forward line of Gaelan Patterson, Walker Wintoneak and Hulak.
"You watch guys in the NHL like Alexander Ovechkin and you see how many goals he has, but then you look at the other stats and see how many shots he's had," said Eberle. "You can't get focused on, 'Oh, I missed this one or I missed that opportunity.' You just have to get ready for the next one."
Brett Leffler and Jordan Weal also scored for Regina (5-7-2-0). The Pats lost centre Matt Strueby to a concussion in the first period after he was checked from behind by Toomey. The Saskatoon forward was assessed a double-minor penalty for the hit.
Morrison finished with 28 saves, while Regina's Damien Ketlo blocked 32.
BLADE BITS: The Blades return to action Saturday when the Kamloops Blazers visit CUC. . . . Former Blades prospect Hampus Gustafsson has surfaced with Pats. The Swedish winger went to training camp with Saskatoon but was eventually released. Regina picked up Gustafsson last week after sending home Czech RW Michal Poletin. . . . Medicine Hat Tigers head coach Willie Desjardins has been named Team WHL bench boss for next month's Subway Super Series against Team Russia. The series, with stops in Victoria (Nov. 25) and Kelowna (Nov. 26), serves as an audition for players hoping to crack Canada's roster for the world junior championship. Desjardins was previously named head coach of the Canadian team which begins pursuit of a sixth straight gold Dec. 26 in Saskatoon. The Team WHL roster will be announced next week.
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