Photo by Brandi Crowe
Brandon, MB (CKLQ) - Kirby Dach's 2nd career WHL hat-trick highlighted an offense explosion for the Saskatoon Blades in a 7-3 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday night.
The line of Gary Haden, Max Gerlach and Chase Wouters combined for eight points while five players had multi-point nights for the Blades in the victory.
Making their return to home ice for the first time in almost two weeks, the Wheat Kings were looking to build momentum off their Alberta road trip (2-1-0-1) as the push for the WHL playoffs continues.
The Blades would open the scoring, as Max Gerlach found a rebound and fired home his 30th of the season. It was the 21st time this season the Wheat Kings had given up the game's first goal.
The temperature rose quickly in the 2nd period and the parade to the penalty box began.
Early in the period, Stelio Mattheos notched his 16th powerplay goal of the year as he beat Dorrin Luding on the short side to tie the game at one.
The Blades would respond quickly. Kirby Dach scored twice in 0:19 seconds, both set up by superb plays from Ryan Hughes. Just like that, the Blades found themselves up 3-1.
Cue the penalties.
After an awkward collision along the Blades bench, Jonny Hooker left the game bleeding. While there was no penalty called on the play, the officials got together and handed out a double-minor to Eric Florchuk for high sticking.
While on the penalty kill, the Blades took another penalty, sending the Wheat Kings to a five-on-three.
Luka Burzan would make the Blades pay, scoring his 30th of the season on a great back door feed from Mattheos.
Due to the way the penalties timed out, the Wheat Kings would stay on the two-man advantage and made the Blades pay once again. This time it was Cole Reinhardt who found a loose puck and beat Luding to tie that game at three.
Before the period could come to an end, the Blades would restore their lead as Eric Florchuk beat Ethan Kruger on the blocker side for his 16th of the season.
The Blades would tack on three more in the third, with two of those goals coming on the powerplay to pick up their 31st victory of the season. The Blades finished the night 2/3 on the powerplay while the Wheat Kings went 3/6.
Dorrin Luding earned his 6th win of the season between the pipes for the Blades, making 25 saves while Ethan Kruger took the loss in a 30 save performance.
The loss squanders the lone "game in hand" that the Wheat Kings had on the Calgary Hitmen coming into play tonight. Brandon remains six points back of the Hitmen for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference Wildcard race.
Brandon and Saskatoon will meet again on Sunday afternoon at Sasktel Centre. Meanwhile, next up for the Wheat Kings is a Friday night date with the Swift Current Broncos here at Westoba Place. (7:30 on QCountry Radio).
SAS - Max Gerlach (30) (Haden, Malysjev) 3:19
Shots: 10-6 Saskatoon
BWK - Stelio Mattheos (32) (Wytinck, Gutenberg) 3:29 PPG
SAS - Kirby Dach (19) (Hughes, Harsch) 7:45
SAS - Kirby Dach (20) (Hughes, McKay) 8:04
BWK - Luka Burzan (30) (Mattheos, Wytinck) 11:05 5on3
BWK - Cole Reinhardt (16) (Gutenberg, Mattheos) 11:56 5on3
SAS - Eric Florchuk (16) (Haden, Kneen) 15:22
Shots: 11-9 Brandon
SAS - Kirby Dach (21) (Haden, Hughes) 5:02 PPG
SAS - Max Gerlach (31) (Wouters, Haden) 13:27
SAS - Eric Florchuk (17) (Gerlach, Davidson) 15:54 PPG
Final Shots: 37-25 Saskatoon