Saturday, 21 January 2012

Preview: Victoria at Saskatoon

The Victoria Royals (15-27-2-3) face Marc Habscheid’s former Junior team, the Sasktoon Blades (28-18-0-1) at the Credit Union Centre Saturday night.  

Habscheid, the Royals bench boss and general manager, played for the Blades for 3 seasons beginning in 1979-80, and in his third year amassed 151 points in 55 games.

Victoria is 2-3 on the current eastern road swing, and conclude 6 games in 9 nights (4 in 5) this evening.  With a win the Royals can head home with a .500 record on the trip.  The team left Victoria on Monday January 9th, 12 days ago.

Victoria is coming off a 6-4 win in Prince Albert Friday night on 3 point efforts from Logan Nelson and Jamie Crooks.  Victoria never trailed, went 3 for 6 on the power play and got goals from six different players.  Austin Carroll provided the winner at 7:48 of the third as Keith Hamilton collected his 14th win with 28 saves.

Saskatoon is coming off a 3-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday night for their 8th win in their last 10.  The Blades got goals from Nick Zajac, Michael Burns and birthday boy Kyle Schmidt who scored the winner to earn their 28th win of the season.  Saskatoon is now 8 games over. 500 at the Credit Union Centre, and wrap up a 3 game home stand this evening with a 1-1 record.

Alex Moodie, the 16 year old rookie netminder, stopped 33 to earn the 8th win of his WHL career.

The Blades are 5th in the Eastern Conference with 57 points, as only 3 points separates 3rd and 7th spots.  The Royals have moved into a tie for 7th with Seattle with 35 points, and are now 3 points up on Prince George.  The Cougars have 2 in hand.

Tonight is the only meeting of the season, Saskatoon winning last years encounter 7-3 in Chilliwack on December 1st 2010. Oddly enough, all the goal scorers in the game for the Blades are still with the team: Collins, Cox, Sutter, Benson, Dietz and Nicholls with two.  Chilliwack won the last time they were in Saskatoon 5-4 in a shoot out February 23rd 2010.

WHO’S HOT:  For Victoria: Logan Nelson’s 3 point game (1g 2a) pulls him into a tie for 2nd in rookie scoring (45) with MarekTvrdon of Vancouver.  Jamie Crooks is now averaging over a point per game (48 in 47) after his 3 point effort. 

For Saskatoon: Michael Burns is on a 7 game point scoring streak (3g 8a) and has goals in 3 straight.  Darren Dietz has 5 assists in his last 4 games.

WHO’S OUT: For Victoria: D Tyler Stahl, Upper body, 1 month+ has missed 43 games. D Jesse Zgraggen, Upper Body, F Tim Traber, Day to day, but possible.  For Saskatoon: G Andrey Makarov, Upper body, day to day.  F Kyle Haas, Upper body, day to day.

DRAFTED/NHL SIGNED PLAYERS: For Victoria: D Tyler Stahl (Carolina, 6th rd 2010), D Jordan Fransoo (Ottawa, 7th rd 2011).  For Saskatoon: D Duncan Siemens (Signed COL ’11), F Matej Stransky (DAL ’11), F Josh Nicholls (TOR ’10) and D Darren Dietz (MONT ’11).

TOP PROSPECTS:  Central Scoutings mid-term rankings of North American players positions Victoria’s Steven Hodges (55), and Logan Nelson (108).  For Saskatoon: D Dalton Thrower (30), and F Lukas Sutter (86).  Sutter will participate in the Top Prospects game and is the son of Rich Sutter.

BLADES TRADE: 12/29/11 Saskatoon acquires Locke Muller & Matthew Pufahl from Red Deer for Devan Fafard & 7th '12.

Leading Scorers:
Crooks (24-24-48)
Nelson (19-26-45)
Soudek (19-21-40)
Rintoul (11-23-34)
Magee (13-18-31)

Stransky (25-23-48)
Sutter (20-22-42)
Burns (18-24-42)
Trask (15-24-39)
Paradis (11-27-38)