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Raiders collide with Blades in second round of 2019 #WHLPlayoffs

Steve Hiscock/Saskatoon Blades

 

A major Western Hockey League Playoffs showdown is set to take place in northern Saskatchewan.

The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades will face each other in the second round of the 2019 WHL Playoffs with a spot in the 2019 Eastern Conference Championship on the line. Both completed sweeps of their respective first round opponents from Red Deer and Moose Jaw Wednesday.

Part of the 14-point gap the Raiders created to claim the top record in the league, Eastern Conference, and East Division in the regular season was cultivated through a 6-2-0-0 record in the season series against the Blades. The Raiders opened the season series with a 4-1 win on September 30, 2018 in a then meeting of undefeated teams. The two teams closed out the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season against each other, each taking their respective home games from a home-and-home series.

The Raiders won all four of the matchups on home ice at the Art Hauser Centre while splitting the four games at the SaskTel Centre. The Blades’ other victory came via a 1-0 win on December 9, 2018. From the overall regular season standings, this series will pit the first-place Raiders against the fourth-place Blades.

Raider forwards Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks) and Cole Fonstad (Montreal Canadiens) were the lone players on either side to record double-digit points in the season series. Gregor had 13 points (9G-4A) in seven games while Fonstad had 12 points (2G-10A) in eight contests. Gregor led all players in goals while Fonstad led in assists.

Leading the Blades will be Max Gerlach, who had seven points (3G-4A) in the season series. That was tied with defenceman Dawson Davidson, who had seven points (2G-5A) as well.

The Raiders will undoubtedly turn to Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) between the pipes in what should be an excellent goaltending battle. Scott went 4-2-0-0 with a 1.68 goals-against-average, and a .938 save percentage against the Blades. Nolan Maier collected both wins for the Blades in the season series, posting a 2-2-0-0 record, 3.45 GAA, and a .891 SV%, and one shutout. Maier’s 32-save shutout of the Raiders in December 2018 stood up as one of his top performances of the season while his 16 wins are the most among all WHL goaltenders since February 1, 2019.

Game 1 of the second-round series will take place at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday, April 5 (7:00 p.m. MT). After Game 2 on Sunday, April 7 (6:00 p.m. MT), the two teams will shift venue to the SaskTel Centre, beginning with Game 3 on Tuesday, April 9 (7:00 p.m. MT).

Game Visitor   Home Date Time
1 Saskatoon @ Prince Albert Friday, April 5 7:00
2 Saskatoon @ Prince Albert Sunday, April 7 6:00
3 Prince Albert @ Saskatoon Tuesday, April 9 7:00
4 Prince Albert @ Saskatoon Wednesday, April 10 7:00
5 * Saskatoon @ Prince Albert Friday, April 12 7:00
6 * Prince Albert @ Saskatoon Sunday, April 14 4:00
7 * Saskatoon @ Prince Albert Tuesday, April 16 7:00

* If necessary

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