Blades throttle Wheat Kings
By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix
January 2, 2012 7:35 AM
The Saskatoon Blades' Chris Collins, middle, makes his way to the front of the Brandon Wheat Kings' net through a maze of defenders during WHL action on Sunday.
Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The Starphoenix, The StarPhoenix
Blades 8, Wheat Kings 2
If only they had skated onto the ice with Auld Lang Syne blaring over the public address system.
For old acquaintances were forgotten and past troubles never brought to mind for the Saskatoon Blades on New Year's Day.
The Blades cruised to an 8-2 win over former teammate Darian Dziurzynski and the Brandon Wheat Kings in their first WHL game of 2012. They did so while alleviating all the problems that plagued them in the last month of 2011.
"With our hockey club in the month of December we had some issues that we had to get straightened up as a team," said Blades head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken.
A Blades' power play that was ineffective for much of December, dropping them to 16th in the league, was 2-for-3 against Brandon. Their inconsistent penalty killing, now 13th, fended off all three Brandon chances.
The success on the special teams allowed the Blades to surender just two goals after giving up an average of 4.8 in their 10 games last month.
And they built off their 9-4 win against Prince Albert last Friday by burying their offensive chances to put up eight goals.
The Blades had scored 22 goals in their other nine games in December.
"We're finally getting some puck luck and some opportunity to finish," said Molleken. "The puck's going in for us now. For a long time it wasn't.
"Defensively, we've really done a good job shoring up in a lot of different areas."
Dalton Thrower had another massive night offensively for the Blades with a goal and three assists, pacing the attack early.
Thrower was credited with an additional assist following last Friday's win for a six-point night, giving him 10 points in two games.
"When you play defence, the offence is going to come," said Thrower, who was in the face of Dziurzynski throughout the game. "That's what we've been working on.
"The points keep coming for me, I guess. These last couple games the puck's been bouncing my way. It's a good feeling. Hopefully it keeps happening."
Matej Stransky also contributed with a helper on the Blades' opening goal by Brent Benson and then secured the victory with a late-game hat trick.
The three goals give the winger 21 on the season, pulling him ahead of injured linemate Josh Nicholls for the team lead.
"It feels good," said Stransky. "I get more pucks. When I'm playing with Josh, we always try to get him the puck because he's the goal scorer."
Other Blades scorers were Lukas Sutter, Jake Trask and Michael Burns. Wheat Kings goaltender Brandon Anderson was replaced after allowing four goals on 17 shots.
Saskatoon put four pucks past backup Curtis Honey on 12 shots.
Daniel Asham and Dominick Favreau were the only Wheat Kings to beat Blades goalie Alex Moodie, who was making his third straight start.
Moodie made 21 saves to earn his second consecutive WHL victory.
The Blades are now off until Friday when they visit Regina to take on the Pats.
BLADE BITS: Like Thrower, Sutter has also been credited with an additional assists in the win over Prince Albert. The scoring change now gives the Blades centre a five-point game . . . Defenceman Darren Dietz returned to the lineup despite taking a hard hit from Prince Albert's Kellan Tochkin and missing most of the third period on Friday . . . Blades centre Travis McEvoy was scratched for the second straight game . . . Wheat Kings centre Tim McGauley made his debut against the Blades. The Wilcox native played five games for Saskatoon as a 15-year-old last season before being included in a package for centre Brayden Schenn at the trade deadline. McGauley played his fifth game for the Wheat Kings. As a member of the Notre Dame Hounds, he is eighth in Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League scoring with 35 points.
SP'S 3 STARS
1. Saskatoon Blades D Dalton Thrower - A four-point game gives him 10 in the past two matches.
2. Saskatoon Blades LW Matej Stransky - Hat trick late in the contest helped secure the victory.
3. Saskatoon Blades G Alex Moodie - Seldom tested, but solid when called upon with 21 saves.
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