The Saskatoon Blades hit a few snags over the first half of the season but hope to return well-rested and ready to compete for a playoff spot.
Back in mid-October, the team seemed poised to maintain their plus-.500 record, but injuries and a grueling travel schedule saw the team slip out of a playoff spot.
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“It’s been such an up and down … I think it got off to a down when Cameron Hebig was down and out indefinitely and for a long period of time. That just set the tone for a ton of injuries and a lot of adversity,” Blades head coach Dean Brockman said.
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On top of Hebig, countless players have struggled with injuries including leading scorer Mason McCarty who is expected to be out eight weeks due to a lower-body injury.
As the midway point comes and goes, the Blades find themselves four points out of a wildcard playoff spot.
“We know the task at hand is huge for us and enormous to climb, there’s a lot of character in that room and hopefully they’ll bounce back and be ready to go right after Christmas to go and get a bunch of wins,” Brockman said.
Last week, Saskatoon traded away its captain, Wyatt Sloboshan, defenseman Nolan Reid and a 2017 third-round pick in the latest of many moves the club has made in attempts to build towards the future.
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The newly acquired players will look to insert fresh determination into the second half of the 2016-17 Western Hockey League (WHL) season.
“Anywhere you go you want to win, regardless of the trade. I’m in Saskatoon and I’m a Blade now, I want to win here. It’s my last year, so I definitely want to make a push here for the playoffs,” newly acquired Blades center Markson Bechtold said.
“Obviously this is a rest right now, but you got to be thinking about it, ready to go when you come back. It’s not done yet, we have a lot to do to and to come back and get a playoff spot,” newly acquired Blades defenseman Evan Fiala said.
The Blades resume play on Dec. 27 in Prince Albert then are back at SaskTel Centre the following night for another bout with the Raiders.
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