It wasn’t the homecoming they planned on, but it was likely the one they deserved.
The Saskatoon Blades were outworked by the Swift Current Broncos, losing their home opener 6-0 on Sunday afternoon.
Swift Current had all the energy from the opening face-off and took the crowd of 6359 people out of the game early on. It was a complete reversal from two nights prior when the Blades were on the attack in a 5-1 victory Friday night.
“We were a little flat, maybe too excited,” said head coach Dean Brockman.
“Giving up a goal with eight seconds left (in the first period) it kind of made a statement.”
From looking at the box score, the two sides appear much closer. Swift Current narrowly out-shot Saskatoon 31-28.
It was special teams that told the story on the night, with the Blades failing to score on their five power play attempts. The Broncos scored twice with a man up.
“We didn’t have any net presence and a lot of times just trying to do too much, too cute with the puck,” Brockman said.
That was the feeling amongst the players, as the team split their opening weekend of the new season. The chances were there, but the finish was not on the afternoon.
“We were getting some good shots but trying to force things too much,” said Blades captain Wyatt Sloboshan.
To the Blades credit, it is a very young season and the squad is missing the scoring touch of forwards Ryan Graham and Cameron Hebig. Both sitting out due to injury. Also missing from the lineup is top defenseman Libor Hajek, who is yet to return from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Blades take Monday off before setting their sights on their first big road trip of the season. Saskatoon plays in Medicine Hat, Alta. on Friday before heading to Cranbrook, B.C. for a meeting with the Kootenay Ice.
AN HONOUR TO TRIBUTE GORDIE HOWE
While they lost the game, what wasn’t lost on the Blades was the meaning behind the game they were a part of. Representing Saskatoon on “Thank You Mr. Hockey” day had a special meaning for all the players who donned the special Gordie Howe jerseys.
“It’s a big deal and it’s an honour to wear the jersey and support him,” said Blades captain Wyatt Sloboshan.
“My vocabulary isn’t good enough to explain how honoured I was to be a part of this,” said Bryton Sayers, keeping an eye on the jersey he wore in the game, which is part of a charity auction.
“I got my parents to buy my jersey for me I told them I would pitch in half if I have to because it means so much.”