Blades bounce back after slow start
Saskatoon extends lead in WHL standings with win over Warriors
By Cory Wolfe, The StarPhoenix
March 7, 2011 8:56 AM
Blades winger Josh Nicholls is knocked off the puck by Moose Jaw’s Brett Lyons (right) Saturday at CUC
Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix
BLADES 7, WARRIORS 2
As far as starts go, that was awful.
Just 36 seconds into Saturday's game at Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon Blades netminder Adam Morrison surrendered a soft goal to Moose Jaw Warriors sniper Quinton Howden. Then defenceman Duncan Siemens -one of the Blades' tougher customers -was bloodied in a toe-to-toe scrap with Joel Edmundson off the ensuing faceoff.
Momentum wasn't exactly hanging out with the home team.
THE SP'S THREE STARS:
1. Blades RW Josh Nicholls -Career-high five points
2. Blades LW Curtis Hamilton -Not one, but two shorthanded goals.
3. Blades C Marek Viedensky -Two goals, one shorthanded and one from his knees.
Two shorthanded goals by Curtis Hamilton got the Blades back on track, though, and they kept the pedal down en route to a 7-2 win witnessed by 5,383 spectators.
"That helped us so much," Blades centre Marek Viedensky said of Hamilton's shorthanded heroics. "And the goals were unreal -like two top corners. It was really nice to watch."
Brayden Schenn set up the first one, leading a 2-on-1 rush and dishing to Hamilton who beat goaltender Thomas Heemskerk 3: 57 into the first period. Then 5: 10 into the second, Hamilton's second shorty -with Brent Benson screening Heemskerk -gave Saskatoon a 2-1 lead.
The Blades never relinquished that control, building a 4-1 cushion by the second intermission. The line of Josh Nicholls, Darian Dziurzynski and Viedensky led the assault with five goals. Nicholls delivered a career-high five points (one goal and four helpers), while his linemates potted a pair of goals each.
"The last couple of weeks, we were relying on one line (Schenn, Hamilton and Jake Trask) and we weren't winning too many games," said Nicholls, whose team played .500 hockey (3-3) for a brief stretch last month. "We were kind of inconsistent. Now in the last couple of games, our line has kind of picked it up."
Viedensky scored the Blades' third shorthanded goal of the night with 11.7 seconds left in the middle period. It was his first-period fight, though, that impressed his teammates. Viedensky didn't even win the scrap with noted pugilist Cody Beach, but he showed up and the rest of the Blades noticed.
"(Viedensky) likes to fight the tough guys for some reason," Nicholls said with a grin. "He fought (Austin) Bourhis off P.A. and (Regina's Colten) Teubert last year. Definitely, you don't want to see him dropping the gloves but at the same time, he held his own pretty well.
"That definitely gets the boys going."
The Warriors (36-24-2-3) have now lost eight straight games at Credit Union Centre. Their last win here was Jan. 31, 2009. The Moose Jaw crew certainly wasn't intimidated by the WHL-leading Blades (51-13-0-2), but Warriors head coach Dave Hunchak said his team needs to mature in its approach to "the game within the game."
"We've lost that battle the last three times we've played them," noted Hunchak. "It's the line between aggressiveness and stupidness. The game is about the points; it's not about proving how tough you are. You fight for three reasons: You stick up for a player, you try to change the momentum, or you're defending yourself.
"(Saturday) was just ridiculous. We scored the first goal, and credit for the job that Edmundson did (fighting Siemens on the ensuing faceoff), but did you really need to fight at that point? Probably not. We had a 1-0 lead after our first shift. Let's play."
Morrison rebounded from that early goal which Howden fired from a sharp angle. The 19-year-old keeper made some clutch second-period saves and stood tall during a penalty-shot attempt which saw Howden's wrister graze the post.
Dylan Hood scored Moose Jaw's other goal 29 seconds into the third period. Overall, the Blades outshot the Warriors 35-28.
BLADE BITS: With an assist Saturday, Stefan Elliott pulled to within one point of Pat Price's franchise record for points by a Blade defenceman. Price piled up 239 points in 266 games from 1970-74. Elliott has 238 in 276 games. . . . The Blades head to Brandon for two games this week. After playing the Wheat Kings on Wednesday and Friday, the Blades return home Saturday to play the Edmonton Oil Kings.
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