Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blades 4 Raiders 3

Even though it took 11 days -- thanks to a Christmas break stuffed right in the middle -- the Saskatoon Blades won their third game in a row with a 4-3 Western Hockey League victory Wednesday night over the Prince Albert Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre.

Brent Benson notched the game winner at 8:52 of the third after the Raiders had rallied for three unanswered goals in the third period to draw even at 3-3.

Chris Collins did the work down low to set up Benson, whose shot fluttered past partially screened Raiders' goalie Jamie Tucker.

"We had a few chances down low, moving around and stuff, and eventually I just saw the guy open and, luckily, he got the shot kind of off -- but one of the P.A. guys got a piece of the stick," Collins, who had a goal and two assists, said of the game-winner.

"It didn't go as planned, but it went in. Thank goodness, because it wouldn't have been a fun drive back if we would have lost that one."

Saskatoon improves to 27-8-0-1. Prince Albert slips to 14-20-2-2.

The same two teams meet again tonight at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

"It's always disappointing losing, especially when you work hard to come back with three goals," said Raiders' forward Andrew Herle. "It's really crushing, but we have another chance (Thursday) to take them in their barn."

The Blades nearly saw a three-goal lead slip-slide away that would have denied them that three-game winning streak.

"We got a little bit undisciplined in the third period and Prince Albert is a team that works hard in this building," said Blades head coach-GM Lorne Molleken. "We knew it was going to be a tough third period and we had to come out with our best and I don't think we did.

"We were fortunate enough to score that winning goal."

Jake Trask gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 7:46 of the first period. Trask skated in from the left side on a two-on-one break and snapped a perfect shot past Tucker, finding the top right-hand corner on the glove side.

Prince Albert found itself in a bit of penalty-trouble yet successfully killed off a 5-on-3 Blades power play. That gave the Raiders a bit of momentum through the remainder of the first yet they could not solve their former goalie, Steven Stanford. The closest they got was a goal post on a backhander by Austin Connor.

Just 34 seconds into the second frame, Saskatoon's Marek Viedensky -- who was parked at the side of the net -- redirected a feed out of the corner from linemate Josh Nicholls. The goal, which cleared the review process by WHL video officials, quickly made it 2-0.

Another two-on-one break resulted in Saskatoon's third goal. This time, defenceman Connor Cox and Collins combined to capitalize on their odd-man rush. A hard shot by Cox bounced off Tucker's shoulder, popped up and went behind the goalie where Collins was waiting to make sure it went in by batting the puck in mid-air.

Prince Albert finally got on the board during a power play at 1:57 of the third as Justin Maylan tucked in a rebound that trickled past Stanford after an initial shot by Antoine Corbin.

The Raiders quickly got back into the game, adding another goal a short time later at 3:22. It came on a second effort by Herle, who finished off a back door play just moments after getting robbed earlier by a goal-post.

P.A. evened things up at 6:09 when Brandon Herrod jumped on a free puck in the slot following a between-the-legs drop pass by Mark McNeill.

Saskatoon answered back with the goal by Benson to ruin the comeback.

BLADE BITS: Shots on goal were 42-35 for the Raiders . . . Affiliated players Tim McGauley and Hudson Morrison, both called up from the midget AAA ranks, were in Saskatoon's lineup, which was missing F's Curtis Hamilton, Levi Bews and Ryan Olsen, all on international hockey assignments . . . Announced attendance was 2,589 . . . Saskatoon went 0-for-3 on the power play. Prince Albert was 1-for-4.

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