The Saskatoon Blades scored a critical victory as they look to make up ground in the WHL’s Eastern Conference Wild Card race, cutting down the Brandon Wheat Kings by a 4-2 final Tuesday night.
In a key four-point divisional game, the Blades received two goals from import defenceman Libor Hajek as they pulled to within four points of both the Wheat Kings and Red Deer Rebels for an Eastern Conference wild card. One catch is both the Wheat Kings and Rebels have games in hand on the Blades – three and two, respectively – but the fact of the matter is Saskatoon is proving it’s ready for a strong push in the second half of the campaign.
Jesse Shynkaruk opened the scoring with his 13th of the season 31 seconds into the middle period, only to see Connor Gutenberg and Jordan Wharrie notched back-to-back markers to give the Wheat Kings a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
The Blades took control early in the third period as Hajek sent his second of the season to the back of the net, tying the game 2-2 only 2:31 in. Not finished yet, the Czech defender secured his second of the evening 1:40 later to give his club a 3-2 lead that eventually held up.
Braylon Shmyr added empty-net insurance – his 21st goal of the season – to seal the victory.
Brock Hamm turned aside 25 shots for his fifth win of the season, while Jordan Papirny made 38 saves in defeat.