Blades & Hurricanes set to tangle on WHL on Shaw

Colin Moreland


Lethbridge Hurricanes (27-15-4-3)
at Saskatoon Blades (20-23-5-1)

Saturday, January 28 –
7 p.m. (Saskatchewan) / 6 p.m. (Mountain)

SaskTel Centre

Channels: Local Shaw SD; Shaw HD304; Shaw Direct Satellite HD Classic 120 or Advanced 620

The ‘Cane Train rolls into the Bridge City for a clash with the Saskatoon Blades Saturday night on WHL on Shaw.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have been red-hot of late, collecting points in nine consecutive outings and continuing to surge up the Central Division standings, intent on catching the division-leading Medicine Hat Tigers by the tail.

As for the Blades, they’re 6-3-1-0 in their previous 10 outings and continue to jockey for playoff position in the Eastern Conference, holding down the second and final wild card seed.

Both teams were in action Friday as the Hurricanes slipped past the Prince Albert Raiders by a 5-4 final. Captain Tyler Wong, who was the WHL Player of the Month for December, posted three points (1G-2A), while defenceman Brennan Menell tallied twice and added an assist as well.

In Moose Jaw, the Blades suffered a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Warriors. Jesse Shynkaruk (1G-1A), Bryton Sayers (1G-1A) and Braylon Shmyr (2A) provided the offense for Saskatoon.

The Eastern Conference playoff picture has plenty to sort out before the season ends in mid-March.

The Hurricanes remain six points back of the Tigers in the Central Division, but common conversation in Lethbridge says the team is dead set on making a run for their Highway 3 rivals from Medicine Hat.

Meanwhile, the Blades are three points ahead of the Calgary Hitmen for the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference and have five points worth of ground to make up if they plan on catching the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first wild card seed.

Shmyr, the 19-year-old product of Calgary, paces the Saskatoon offense with a career-high 45 points (25G-20A) in 49 games this season. Shynkaruk is pitching in admirably as well, sitting second in team scoring with 35 points (22G-13A) in 36 games, after missing time early in the season due to injury.

A busy run up to the WHL Trade Deadline on Jan. 10 saw the Hurricanes add some key pieces to an already deep arsenal. Wong’s 70 points (35G-35A) are good enough for fifth in the entire WHL while Buffalo Sabres prospect Giorgio Estephan has 58 points (24G-34A) in 45 contests. Newcomers Zak Zborosky (31-23-54), Matt Alfaro (13-28-41) and Alec Baer (9-17-26) have all made their presence known since landing in the Windy City.

Logan Flodell and Brock Hamm have seen their fair share of the crease work in Saskatoon in this season. Flodell has appeared in 32 games, going 14-14-2-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and two shutouts. Meanwhile, Hamm has seen action in 21 contests, going 6-9-3-1 with a 4.06 GAA and .876 SV%.

Stuart Skinner, a highly-touted 2017 NHL Draft prospect, has been the ultimate workhorse in Lethbridge, getting into 44 games and going 24-13-3-2 along the way. He carries a 3.33 GAA, .903 SV% and one shutout this season. With Skinner off to the 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Quebec City, the responsibilities fall to Ryan Gilchrist. In 12 appearances this season, Gilchrist is 3-2-1-1 with a 4.86 GAA and .860 SV%.

Saturday marks the second of four meetings this season between the Hurricanes and Blades.

Back on Nov. 13, the Blades skated to a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge. Mason McCarty recorded a goal and an assist while Flodell made 27 saves to backstop his club.

Following Saturday’s affair, the two teams will reconvene on Feb. 18 in Lethbridge before rounding out the season series on March 4 back in Saskatoon.

Saskatoon Blades

Record: 20-23-5-1
Head coach: Dean Brockman
Scoring leaders: LW Braylon Shmyr (25-20-45); C Jesse Shynkaruk (22-13-35); C Josh Paterson (11-16-27)
Goaltending leader: Logan Flodell (32GP, 14-14-2-0, 3.01 GAA, .909 SV%, 2 SO)
Power play: 12th – 20.7 per cent
Penalty kill: 19th – 75.9 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Markson Bechtold (upper body, week to week); F Cameron Hebig (upper body, week to week); F Mason McCarty (lower body, week to week)

Lethbridge Hurricanes

Record: 27-15-4-3
Head coach: Brent Kisio
Scoring leaders: C Tyler Wong (35-35-70); C Giorgio Estephan (24-34-58); RW Zak Zborosky (31-23-54)
Goaltending leader: Stuart Skinner (44GP, 24-13-3-2, 3.33 GAA, .903 SV%, 1 SO)
Power play: Fifth – 25.1 per cent
Penalty kill: T-16th – 76.7 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Egor Babenko (upper body, day to day); F Ryan Bowen (upper body, day to day)

Season series

Nov. 13 – Saskatoon (5) at Lethbridge (3)
Jan. 28 – Lethbridge at Saskatoon
Feb. 18 – Saskatoon at Lethbridge
March 4 – Lethbridge at Saskatoon

WHL on Shaw schedule

Wednesday, Feb. 1 – Lethbridge Hurricanes at Red Deer Rebels
Saturday, Feb. 4 – Edmonton Oil Kings at Regina Pats
Friday, Feb. 10 – Medicine Hat Tigers at Calgary Hitmen

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