One thing new Saskatoon Blades’ head coach Mitch Love wants out of his team, he didn’t get in Thursday’s W-H-L pre-season opener in Prince Albert.
But, the 34-year-old will let taking 10 out of 16 minor penalties go…this time…since the Bridge City Bunch were able to out-score the Raiders 5-3.
Tristen Robins scored on a wrap-around with 4:14 left in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie to make Love a winner in his first-ever game as a Western Hockey League head coach.
“It was a pretty surreal moment for myself,” said the Quesnel, B-C product with a wry smile about running the show for the first time. “I’ve been around this league for a long time and I was mentioning it to the coaches in between the first and second (periods), that’s the first time I’ve ever ran the forward group in a hockey game…I’ve always been used to those six D on the back end, so that was a bit of an adjustment there. There’ll be some growing pains for sure, but (assistant coach) Ryan Keller did a good job helping me out there with the communication part and the teaching tonight was great on the bench. I just look forward to growing.”
Newcomer Riley McKay scored the first goal of the W-H-L pre-season, giving the Blue and Gold a 1-0 lead. Belarussian defenceman Sergei Sapego tied it up before 16-year-old rookie Braden Plachewsky gave Saskatoon the lead again before the end of the first period.
The only goal of the second period was potted by sophomore P-A forward Justin Nachbaur. The Raiders took their only lead of the game just 10 seconds into the third period on a Carson Miller power play tally. But, Blades’ Norwegian newcomer Kristian Roykas Marthinsen responded with a man-power advantage score to square the game again.
That set the stage for Saskatoon goaltender Koen MacInnes to shine. The 16-year-old made nine saves as Prince Albert enjoyed 5:03 worth of power play time…57 seconds of it on a 5-on-3…but didn’t score.
“It was huge for me, it was huge for my confidence,” said the Burnaby, B-C native…a second round Bantam Draft pick of the Bridge City Bunch in 2017. “But, there were also a bunch of huge blocks back there. Majid Kaddoura came up with a huge block in the middle of the penalty kill…I couldn’t have done it without him. It was a whole team effort there.”
Robins, the 17-year-old son of former Blue and Gold goaltender Trevor Robins, tallied after being stopped off a rush at the right post by Raiders’ goaltender Brett Balas. Robins collected the rebound, circled the net and tucked the puck inside the left post before Balas could recover. Veteran Michael Farren added an empty-net goal to close out the scoring.
Prince Albert out-shot the Blades 39-24…16 of their 39 shots coming on six power play chances, two of which they connected on. Saskatoon was 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
The Blades play their second pre-season game Friday afternoon when they travel to Regina to face-off against the Moose Jaw Warriors in the first game of the Pats’ pre-season tournament. Following is the game summary from the W-H-L…
Saskatoon Blades 5 at Prince Albert Raiders 3 – Status: Final
Thursday, August 30, 2018 – Art Hauser Centre – Prince Albert, SK
Saskatoon 2 0 3 – 5
Prince Albert 1 1 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Saskatoon, McKay 1 (Ashton, Kaddoura), 7:45. 2, Prince Albert, Sapego 1 (Protas, Moe), 11:53 (PP). 3, Saskatoon, Plaschewsky 1 (Mack, Schneider), 17:37. Penalties-Kaddoura Sas (slashing), 10:32; Farren Sas (hooking), 11:20; McKay Sas (roughing), 15:44; Wiesblatt Pa (roughing), 15:44.
2nd Period-4, Prince Albert, Nachbaur 1 (Protas), 7:07. Penalties-McKay Sas (interference), 8:34; Kaddoura Sas (slashing), 18:06; Saleski Pa (slashing), 18:06; Wright Sas (high sticking), 18:17.
3rd Period-5, Prince Albert, Miller 1 (Moe, Sapego), 0:10 (PP). 6, Saskatoon, Roykas Marthinsen 1 (Kaddoura), 4:05 (PP). 7, Saskatoon, Robins 1 15:46. 8, Saskatoon, Farren 1 (Dach), 18:07 (EN). Penalties-Dach Sas (roughing), 0:37; Clark Pa (charging, roughing), 0:37; Miller Pa (hooking), 2:37; Nicholas Sas (slashing), 6:09; Wright Sas (high sticking, high sticking), 7:12; Clark Pa (slashing), 12:51.
Shots on Goal-Saskatoon 13-3-8-24. Prince Albert 12-14-13-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Saskatoon 1 / 3; Prince Albert 2 / 7.
Goalies-Saskatoon, MacInnes 1-0-0-0 (39 shots-36 saves). Prince Albert, Balas 0-1-0-0 (23 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Adam Bloski (16), Bryan Bourdon (45).
Linesmen-Jordan Carriere (108), Andrew Sawatsky (123).