For at least one night, the Saskatoon Blades have taken control of a playoff spot with a 5-3 win over Medicine Hat Wednesday night.
The win is also the Blades’ third straight as they take over the second wildcard spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Idle Edmonton is two points back but have played two less games.
Despite being out-shot 18-11 in the first, is was Saskatoon converting on their chances. A pair of passes by Josh Paterson set up Braylon Shmyr (23) and Jesse Shynkaruk (18) for two early goals. Shmyr would add a second (24) to give the Blades a 3-0 lead into the break.
Logan Christensen (9) smacked home a loose puck into the open net just two minutes into the second. But the Tigers would continue to get pucks on net and were rewarded, scoring a powerplay goal and a penalty shot to cut the Blades’ lead in half.
A pair of costly penalties by Medicine Hat gave the Blades a 5-on-3, where Jesse Shynkaruk (19) was able to convert his second of the night and give Saskatoon a 5-2 lead into the third.
The Tigers would find one in the third, but that was as close as the would come. Saskatoon has three wins in the first four games of a six-game homestand.
“Guys dug deep and if we make the playoffs this is a team we would be playing and we wanted to show we could beat them,” said Blades head coach Dean Brockman.
It’s a much better result than the last time the two sides met, when Medicine Hat beat the Blades 8-2.
“We’ve fought our way through a lot of games and all those lead up to learning lessons.”
The win is big for the playoff race, but also big for Blades forward Caleb Fantillo, who was playing his former team.
“It’s an unreal feeling and the boys played their hearts out for me,” said Fantillo.
With one assist on the night, Fantillo’s impact was more felt away from the scoresheet. He drew two penalties that led to power-play goals and appeared to get under the skin of Tigers goalie Michael Bullion.
“Just tried to go to the net hard and he didn’t like it so I took a couple punches to the face,” he said. “I love doing that and firing up the boys.”
Logan Flodell was stellar in the Blades net, stopping 48 of 51 shots while facing two penalty shots.
The Blades go for a fourth straight win on Friday, Jan. 20 when they host Brandon.