Tuesday September 02, 2014






Blades burn Blazers

The Saskatoon Blades, who will be the host team in the 2013 Memorial Cup, made their national TV debut in On The Edge, a Sportsnet show, on Friday night.

They weren't able to hold their own viewing party because they were playing the Kamloops Blazers at Interior Savings Centre.

On the ice, the Blades were more like junkyard dogs than TV prima donnas as they erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and stunned the Kamloops Blazers, 3-2.

"That's probably the biggest goal I've scored in my career," offered Saskatoon forward Nathan Burns, who won this one at 18:59 of the third period. "It feels good."

This was Burns' first goal in seven games for the Blades (11-11-1), who acquired him from the Vancouver Giants for first- and third-round bantam draft picks and forward Travis McEvoy, 18.

Burns beat Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave with a shot from the slot that came off the rush.

"That felt great to get it out of the way," Burns said. He admitted that he had been "squeezing the stick a little bit. It's good to get that weight off my shoulders."

It was Burns' 35th goal in 194 regular-season games. Nine of those goals have come against the Blazers. Last season, when he scored 12 times in 55 games, he had six goals against Kamloops, three of them at the ISC.

"I've scored a few goals against Kamloops," Burns, a 19-year-old from Edmonton, offered. "I don't know what it is."

The Blazers (19-6-2) don't know what it is, either. They appeared to have this game under control as they led 2-0 with less than 12 minutes to play in the third period.

Forward Logan Harland, a 17-year-old from Frenchman Butte, Sask., who was in the lineup because of injuries, got the Blades rolling with his first goal this season, at 8:39 of the third, firing a shot off the left wing that sailed past Cheveldave's trapper.

The Blades were without five regulars, including injured centre Shane McColgan, their second-leading scorer, and defenceman Duncan Siemens, a first-round selection by the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL's 2011 draft. Siemens, 19, flew out of Kamloops yesterday to be with his ailing father, Errol, in Sherwood Park, Alta.

Four minutes after Harland scored, it was 2-2. Kamloops winger Cole Ully thought he had Matej Stransky covered in the neutral zone, but the Saskatoon veteran tripped him up, a move that created all kinds of room on the right side, and he was able to rip a shot past Cheveldave.

"We just laid right back. We didn't shut them down after getting a two-goal lead," Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said. "When things don't go well . . . there's going to be nights when you're not going to score. When we won those games, we couldn't do anything wrong. Now it's not going in.

"If we want to continue to win and get back to winning consistently, we have to play defence much better. They had two goals tonight when it was one invidivudal versus three or four of our guys. We're there in position but we don't do anything about it.

"If you want to win in any league, you have to learn how to check."

Charron said he and associate coach Dave Hunchak continue to work on the defensive game in practices.

But, Charron added, "the players have to commit themselves to it. Right now we're not committed to playing defence. We're just committed to being an offensive type of team and it's catching up to us."

The Blazers, who got second-period goals from Chase Souto and Colin Smith, also are going to have learn how to deal with being on the receiving end of physical play, especially if their power play, which was 0-for-6, continues to struggle.

"Our penalty killing was excellent and the reason for that is because (Andrey) Makarov was great in goal for us," said Lorne Molleken, the Blades' general manager and head coach.

Makarov finished with 41 saves, including a brilliant right pad save on Smith in the first period and a terrific second-period glove save on Bozon. The Blazers also had a chance at the final buzzer, but Makarov again stoned Bozon.

The Blades came out and were physical and chippy, and the result was a hockey game, that, at least for the first 30 minutes, was about as gritty as it gets these days.

It was obvious early that the visitors were wanting to take a pound of flesh from the Blazers big guns, especially Smith and Brendan Ranford.

The result was a number of post-whistle scrums, lots of gloves in faces and the odd stick in the back of the legs.

"We get caught up in that and we addressed it after the second period," Charron said. "That's not our identity as a team. If teams know they can have success doing that then we better be ready for it because every team is going to do it.

"And the team (tonight) is not going to do any different."

That would be the Vancouver Giants, who provide tonight's oppostion at the ISC. Game time is 7 o'clock.

JUST NOTES: The attendance was 4,764. . . . The Blades were 0-for-5 on the power play. . . . Kamloops F Aaron Macklin didn't return after the first period. He took a stick while seated on the bench and needed stitches. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. D Darren Dietz, Saskatoon: Best player on the ice and played a lot; 2. Makarov: Owned Bozon; 3. D Sam Grist, Kamloops: Big guy blocked shots and played tough.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca

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