With silver medalist Emily Clark in the building, the Saskatoon Blades couldn’t find an Olympic effort of its own to earn two crucial points against the Lethbridge Hurricanes, falling 5-3 on Friday at Sasktel Centre.
Days after arriving in Saskatoon from Pyeonchang, Clark was greeted with a standing ovation from the 3,998 hometown faithful in attendance before the opening faceoff.
Head coach Dean Brockman got the start his team wanted, but it was some familiar mishaps that would doom the Blades.
“Pure execution, pure execution,” Brockman said of his team’s missing ingredient on the powerplay. “You can’t go tape to skate, it’s got to be clean.”
“It’s really about execution and we’re not executing.”
Those comments come after his team went 0 for 6 six on the powerplay against the ‘Canes and 2 for 19 in it’s last four games.
Braylon Shmyr opened the scoring after a stutter step deke before neatly roofing the puck past former Blades goaltender Logan Flodell from just in front of the goal line.
Saskatoon would take the one-goal lead into the first intermission, but not before Gage Ramsay would fire a shot as time expired to draw a crowd in the ‘Canes corner.
As the scrum died down, Evan Fiala let loose three right hooks on opposing defenceman Tate Olsen to earn himself a four-minute roughing penalty and raise the aggression for the rest of the game.
Lethbridge seemed invigorated by the antics and quickly gave itself a 2-1 lead thanks to Taylor Ross scoring one goal during the Fiala penalty and another on a wrist shot that Maier couldn’t track down 2:11 into the second period.
For the rest of the game, the Blades were playing catch up.
Blades forward Bradley Goethals would get his team back even, potting his own rebound on an odd-man rush just shy of the halfway mark of the second period.
In the third period, a shorthanded goal by Jordan Bellerive once again put the ‘Canes up on the Blades before Eric Florchuk tied it with 9:34 remaining in the game.
The final dagger for the Blades would come almost four minutes later with a Jake Elmer wrist shot as he flew down the wing and sent a shot from a sharp angle past Blades goaltender Nolan Maier.
An empty-net goal would seal the 5-3 victory for Lethbridge.
The loss is the third in a row for the Blades, who are now out of the playoff picture after Prince Albert Raiders erased a 4-2 deficit and beat Swift Current 5-4.
Following the game, captain Evan Fiala said it’s a battle against the Raiders even when they aren’t playing them.
“The way I’m looking at it is, you’re neck and neck with a competitor,” he said. “It’s who’s going to be best, who’s going to want it more for the rest of the season.”
“We’re playing Moose Jaw tomorrow, but we’re playing P.A too.”