It might just be the biggest game of the year so far in Saskatoon.
Everything from bull riders, to rock stars (Gene Simmons of Kiss) to crazy faux-denim jerseys will be on display tonight at Credit Union Centre.
And, oh yeah, there is a hockey game to be played as well.
The team in town tonight is the top ranked Portland Winterhawks, a team that has won 10 straight games and lead the league by 5 points.
It's a game many fans have had circled on their calendars since the start of the year as these Winterhawks only appear in Saskatoon once every two years. They should be a fun team to watch.
They are a team that features a ton of players with NHL potential, including:
- Ryan Johansen (drafted 4th overall by the Blue Jackets in 2010)
- Nino Niederreiter (drafted 5th overall by the Islanders in 2010)
- Brad Ross (drafted 43rd overall by the Maple Leafs in 2010)
- Taylor Aronson (drafted 78th overall by the Predators in 2010)
- Troy Rutkowski (drafted 137th overall by the Avalanche in 2010)
- Ty Rattie (expected to be a high pick in the 2011 NHL draft)
- Sven Bartschi (expected to be a high pick in the 2011 NHL draft)
- Derrick Pouliot (expected to be a high pick in the 2012 NHL draft)
Yes, they haven't talent that runs through every part of their lineup. As mentioned, they are a team that has won 10 straight games to move to 16-2-0-1 on the year. Portland is also coming off a late come-from-behind win in Regina on Wednesday night.
The Blades will have to be on top of their game if they want to earn a win. Saskatoon is coming off that shootout loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds this week. A game which they led by 2 goals after 40 minutes. A better effort should be expected by them tonight, and it should not be a game that is hard to get excited and ready for.
With that being said, here are my keys to the game:
- Play physical. Saskatoon is a team that likes to throw their weight around. Portland has to be just as aggressive and can’t be afraid to hit back.
- Stop the top line. Saskatoon’s big scorers continue to find the score sheet but if Portland can stop those guys, they will have a great shot at winning.
- And take the crowd out of it. It could very well be the biggest one of the year in Saskatoon with a ton of festivities and special guests for the game. Portland has to make them sit on their hands.
- Get out to a fast start. Portland is a dynamic team and the Blades have to come out early and try to get on the board first.
- Simplify the powerplay. They went 1 for 3 last game and will need to continue to work on getting more shots and traffic. Portland has the best penalty kill in the WHL.
- And Adam Morrison needs to be very sharp. Everyone knows how good offensively Portland is, Morrison needs to be on top of his game tonight for Saskatoon to get a win.
Game time goes at 7:05 from CUC and I really hope you come and check this one out. If you can't, you can always listen on 92.9 The Bull. The pre-game show starts at 6:30.