Four-goal games in junior hockey are reserved for special performances that are rarely duplicated. Just ask Saskatoon Blades forward Gary Haden.
“It just kept happening, we just kept scoring and it kind of hit me on the bench after the game — ‘Holy, I just put up five points in the Western (Hockey) League. That’s pretty cool.'”
Haden’s career performance led the Blades to a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings Tuesday at Sasktel Centre.
While most fans would consider themselves lucky to see a hat trick on any given night, Blades fans would expect it to come from Max Gerlach or Kirby Dach — not a hard-nosed player like Gary Haden, who smashed his personal record of two goals in a game by putting four into the Oil Kings net.
“Our line has been playing well lately,” he said after his five point night that included an assist. “We’ve had chance after chance and we’ve been telling each other, ‘We’re due for an explosion’ and tonight was the night.”
Entering the third period tied 3-3 after forty minutes of tight checking, it was Haden, Chase Wouters and Josh Paterson leading the charge and taking over in the final frame as Haden scored the game’s final three goals.
Haden, who joined the Blades via trade on Oct. 25, grew up in Alberta playing hockey against his linemates and thinks that has something to do with the chemistry they’ve built in his 20 games with the Blades.
“I couldn’t stand playing against them, so now you really appreciate when they’re on your line and your team,” he said. “It’s been awesome so far.”
It was the fourth game in five nights for Saskatoon, who entered Tuesday on a high after beating the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) top-ranked Prince Albert Raiders 1-0 Sunday afternoon.
Head coach Mitch Love says it showed at the game’s outset.
“They looked very fatigued in the first 40 minutes, but you’re a 20 minute game away from finding two points and they came out with a little bit of a spur in their ass for whatever reason in the third period,” he said of his team’s revival after the second intermission.
Although Edmonton didn’t present the same calibre offence as Prince Albert on paper, Saskatoon had trouble coping with the Oil Kings during the first two periods.
“Edmonton is a good hockey team,” Love said. “Maybe their record doesn’t indicate it quite yet. They gave us everything we could handle.”
It was Edmonton drawing first blood on a Liam Keeler goal just over nine minutes into the game as he sent a pass at the Blades net that went off of Blades defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus’ skate and in.
That lead would only last a minute as Blades captain Chase Wouters evened the score at one as he crashed the net looking for a rebound on a harmless looking original shot.
Seth Bafaro put Saskatoon up 2-1 as he sent a slapshot towards the net that was deflected in front of Oil Kings goaltender Todd Scott.
Oil Kings Brett Kemp and Haden would trade goals before Matthew Robertson evened the game at 3-3 on a shot that whizzed beyond the glove of Blades goaltender Nolan Maier.
From then on, it was the Gary Haden show. The 19-year-old scored on two one-timers at point blank range and added a long distance shot that found a way through multiple bodies for
The trio of Haden, Wouters and Paterson combined for nine points in the win. The rest of the team had two points.
Saskatoon cleared some room on its clogged blue line earlier in the week, shipping 19-year-old defenceman Jake Kustra to the Victoria Royals for a 2019 4th round bantam draft pick on Monday. Saskatoon now has eight defencemen on its roster.