The Saskatoon Blades paid a visit to Rexall Place last Wednesday to take on the Edmonton Oil Kings. The game was very evenly matched, with the Blades squeezing out a 4-3 victory in a fight-filled affair.
The Oil Kings started the game with little fire and quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole less than six minutes into the game. After the second goal, Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal called a timeout, which resulted in the team regaining their compete level; and by the end of the period the end of the period, Edmonton had cut the lead to one at 3-2.
During the second period whilst killing off a five-minute major penalty to Jordan Hickmott, the Oil Kings Travis Ewanyk converted on a two-on-one with Michael Piluso to tie the game at 3-3. However, the Oil Kings could never gain the lead, and Marek Vidiensky scored the game winning goal in the third period to give the Blades.
Canadian World Junior legend Brayden Schenn had a goal and an assist in the game, and was easily the most dominating player when he was on the ice. The win for the Blades was coach Lorne Molleken’s 500th victory in the WHL, joining the Vancouver Giants Don Hay as the only active WHL coaches to reach that plateau.
Amongst being the best team in the WHL, the Blades brought with them a few other post-Christmas treats for the Oil King faithful to see. Duncan Siemens, a projected top-10 pick at this years NHL Entry Draft, patrols the Blades blueline. At 6-foot-1 and 200 lbs, Siemans is projected to be a two-way defenseman with a physical edge to his game.
But after talking to Schenn during the postgame interviews, the WJC hero was still in shock with what happened against the Russians during the gold-medal game .
“I don’t think anyone can really tell you, and before we knew it it was 5-3, and the game was over,” Schenn said. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Another player that plays for the Saskatoon Blades is Curtis Hamilton, also a member of the silver-medal WJC team and an Oilers prospect. When asked about the gold-medal collapse, Hamilton hinted that the team was emotionally drained from their victory against the United States before.
“Any time you play the defending champs, you want to beat them, beat the top dog and especially on their home soil,” Hamilton explained. “There were definetly emotions there.”
When asked of the prospects of playing with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, Hamilton said, “They’re an elite team with elite players. I can’t be mentioned with them just yet.”
Interesting thing about WHL games: you don’t know who you’ll run into. This is a league where 20-percent of the players will go on to the NHL; by far the most of any developmental hockey league.