Saturday, 4 February 2017

Battling Blades take feisty encounter with Rebels

Blades D Jackson Caller, left, engages with Rebels C Michael Spacek.
    It was a rare rowdy Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre that saw tensions escalate between the Saskatoon Blades and the visiting Red Deer Rebels.
    The 4,211 spectators in attendance got to witness all sorts of fireworks in the third period of a WHL contest between the two teams that included a shouting match between the each clubs’ coaches from the edge of their benches, a couple of big collisions that resulted in two Blades players being helped off the ice and a big scrum at game’s end.
    When the dust settled, the Blades skated away with a 4-2 victory, which ended a four game losing streak.
    “For us, it is about winning,” said Blades head coach Dean Brockman. “It is about the composure. We stopped the four-game losing streak, and really, that is what we should be talking about.
    “For us, it is a huge win. Hopefully, we haven’t lost too many pieces of the puzzle. We’ve fought through that adversity all year.”
Rebels HC, GM and owner Brent Sutter yells at the Blades bench.
    Tensions rose as Saskatoon held a 3-1 edge with 10:41 to play in the third period. The trigger came when Blades defenceman Jake Kustra went down after taking a hit from Rebels winger Cameron Hausinger, who is a former Blade, by the left corner boards of the Saskatoon zone. Kustra had to be taken off the ice by stretcher, and Hausinger was given a major penalty for checking to the head and a game misconduct.
    The replay in the building showed that Kustra slipped and was placed in a vulnerable position, when he was trying to avoid Hausinger’s hit.
    As Kustra was being tended to on the ice, Rebels head coach, general manager and owner Brent Sutter hopped up on the edge of his team’s bench to engage in a shouting match with Blades assistant coach Ryan Keller and Brockman. Building security moved in to ensure the spectators didn’t get involved.
Blades AC Ryan Keller and HC Dean Brockman yell at the Rebels bench.
    Most of the power play from Hausinger’s infraction was later wiped out, when Blades winger Caleb Fantillo received a double minor for high sticking.
    With 29.6 seconds to play and Saskatoon holding a 4-2 edge, Rebels defenceman Colton Bobyk nailed Blades star winger Braylon Shmyr with a high hit dropping Shmyr to the ice. Saskatoon defenceman Evan Fiala tried to engage Bobyk, but was only able to get in a slash before the officials jumped in. Both rearguards were given 10-minute misconducts, and Fiala received a minor for slashing.
    After being tended to by the trainers, Shmyr managed to leave the ice for the Saskatoon dressing room under his own power.
    “Anytime you see one of your own guys go down whether it be a clean hit or not it is always tough to watch,” said Blades centre Jesse Shynkaruk. “We’re on the bench there, and it is tough seeing Kusy (Kustra) get dragged off and Shmyrsie (Shmyr) too.
A scrum occurs by the Rebels net in the second period.
    “The boys battled, and we won it for those two guys tonight. It was all for them.
    “It was a little tense. We kind of got into it with the other team there. We just have to draw attention back to the game and finish off the last 10 minutes.”
    The game ended with a big scrum ensuing by the left corner boards in the Saskatoon zone. The highlight was a jawing match between Rebels centre Michael Spacek and Blades defenceman Jackson Caller.
    The officials broke the scrum up before it could escalate, and no penalties were assessed.
    As far as scoring went, Shynkaruk scored twice and had an assist for the Blades, while Shmyr and Gage Ramsay netted singles. Austin Glover and Evan Polei responded with singles for the Rebels. Polei was involved in a second period fight with Blades winger Lukus MacKenzie.
Blades S Evan Fiala mixes it up with Rebels captain Adam Musil.
    Logan Flodell made 22 stops to earn the win in goal for the Blades (21-26-5-1). Lasse Petersen took the loss starting in goal for the Rebels (23-22-5-3) turning away just three-of-six shots. He was pulled at the 10:22 mark of the opening frame.
Riley Lamb stopped 20-of-21 shots playing in relief for Red Deer.
    “All of us were definitely worked up when Kusy (Kustra) got hit,” said Flodell. “I think we settled down and played pretty well.
    “We got the win and killed off the penalties. It was good.”
    After the game, Brockman was still trying to piece together the shouting match with Sutter.
    “I am not even sure exactly what started or what happened,” said Brockman. “Tempers are pretty high at that point. It is obviously a pretty emotional game and that can happen.
The Blades celebrate their victory over the Rebels.
    “After the bad hit, I mean tempers are obviously going to fly. Hockey is a game of emotion and physicality.
    “To be honest, I am looking down my bench to see who I have to put out next. I didn’t see the first hit, and I didn’t see the hit on (Braylon) Shmyr either.”
    With the win, the Blades move into eighth place and currently hold the final playoff berth in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. They sit a point ahead of the Calgary Hitmen (19-24-7-2), but the Hitmen have a game in hand.
    The Blades return to action this coming Friday, when the host the Moose Jaw Warriors at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre. The Rebels return home to Red Deer to host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday.

Suspensions could be on the horizon

    The WHL office could possibly issue suspensions for actions that went down in Saturday’s clash between the Blades and Rebels.
    The major penalty for checking to the head given to Hausinger and the double minor for high sticking assessed to Fantillo will be automatically reviewed by the league for further discipline.
    The Blades could send a tape to the league office asking for supplemental discipline for Bobyk over his high hit on Shymr, which wasn’t penalized.
    From what I saw on the replays, I don’t believe Hausinger or Fantillo will be suspended, but there could be a suspension to Bobyk for head contact. With that said, the league has access to various camera angles besides the replays that were shown in the building, so any outcome is possible.
    Richard Doerksen, who is the WHL’s vice-president of hockey, is usually pretty bang on when it comes to issuing or not issuing suspensions.
    The Blades didn’t have any injury updates on Kustra or Shmyr after the game.  

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