Maier marvelous as Blades blank Raiders

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Saskatoon Blades goaltender Nolan Maier recieves a snow shower as Prince Albert Raiders Brett Leason is slowed up by Brandon Schuldhaus on Sunday afternoon in Saskatoon.

Nolan Maier and the Saskatoon Blades did something Sunday that no one else has done in the Western Hockey League this year.

They held Brett Leason without a point and kept the Prince Albert Raiders off the scoresheet.

In a tightly contested battle at the SaskTel Centre, Maier turned aside all 32 shots that came his way as the Blades edged the Raiders by a score of 1-0 to hand the top team in the Western Hockey League their first regulation loss in 22 games.

“I think this speaks volumes from what we can do as a group, especially with how we played against the top team in the league,” Maier said after picking up his second clean sheet of the campaign.

“To be able to get a shutout glorifies things a little bit with what I did, but our team was able to hold them to under 20 shots in the first two periods. This is a real statement win for us to the rest of the league.”

Maier saved some of his best work for the final frame, as he made a huge kick save to rob Leason in what proved to be the best chance for the WHL scoring leader to extend his 30 game point streak.

A couple of minutes later, Maier was able to shut the door on Justin Nachbaur as he looked to redirect a pass from Ozzy Wiesblatt.

Although the Raiders suffered their first regulation loss since a 4-3 road affair against the Red Deer Rebels on Oct. 6, head coach Marc Habscheid was pleased with his team’s effort as they wrapped up a busy three-in-three weekend.

“When you have the travel back and forth to Brandon, and a physical game like the one we had at home last night, it’s not easy,” Habscheid said. “We were a little fatigued early on, but I’m really proud of how the guys worked through it.

“It wasn’t quite our ‘A’ game, but I thought we probably deserved to win this one as we were able to outchance them quite a bit. We had some point blank chances at the end, but their goalie (Maier) was able to stop them all.”

After Tristen Robins’ second period marker, which allowed the crowd of 6,334 to toss a variety of stuffed animals onto the ice, the Blades blueline showcased their talents in slowing down the dangerous Raiders offence.

“Prince Albert has a number of players that can make you pay if you make a mistake, which is what happened to us the last two times we played them,” Blades defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus said.

“We were committed to playing well in our own end right from the start. We didn’t plan on scoring five goals tonight. We wanted to play our game on defence and let the goals come to us.”

Nolan Keeen had the lone assist for the Blades, who improved their record to 19-10-3-1 and are 16 points back of the Raiders for the top spot in the East Division.

In his final game before heading off with Leason to Hockey Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp in Victoria, B.C., Ian Scott turned in another excellent showing for his team as turned aside 26 shots.

Next up for the 28-2-0-1 Raiders is a home affair with the Edmonton Oil Kings Wednesday at 7 p.m.

They will then visit the Swift Current Broncos Friday before hosting their East Division rivals Saturday in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game at the Art Hauser Centre, in what will be their final game before Christmas.

Post-Game Notes

The last netminder to shutout the Raiders was Brody Willms in a 2-0 win for the Moose Jaw Warriors in Game 4 of the 2018 WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.

Prior to Maier’s performance Sunday, Logan Flodell was the last Blades goaltender to blank the Raiders in a 1-0 contest on Oct. 29, 2016.

With Leason’s run coming to an end, Portland Winterhawks forward Cody Glass now holds the longest point streak in the WHL at 16 games.

Raiders blueliner Sergei Sapego had a goal for Belarus on Sunday afternoon in Fussen, Germany as they opened up play at the IIHF Division I World Juniors with a 5-3 win over Norway.

Aliaksei Protas was also in the lineup but did not have a point for Belarus, who take on France tomorrow morning.

In addition to the two imports, Lane Kirk was the other scratch for the Raiders.

Blueliners Jake Kustra, Zachary Ashton and Majid Kaddoura did not dress for the Blades, while Kristian Roykas Marthinsen is currently playing for Norway at the Division I World Juniors.

Sunday’s Scores

  • Calgary 6 Kamloops 3 (Egor Zamula – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Everett 2 Spokane 0 (Bryce Kindopp – Two Goals – Dustin Wolf – 21 Saves – Third Shutout This Season and Seventh Career)

Tuesday’s Schedule

  • Edmonton vs. Saskatoon – 7 p.m.
  • Kelowna vs. Kootenay – 8 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Seattle – 9 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Victoria – 9 p.m.