Tonight is game one of the second round series between the Kootenay Ice and the Saskatoon Blades. Both teams are coming off successful first rounds, as both teams won in 6 games.
The Blades home ice advantage, that they worked so hard for in the regular season, is something that they can really be pleased about these days. It's a big advantage to open up such a "big travel series" here on home ice. The Ice were travelling to Saskatoon already on Wednesday while the Blades were at home and resting in their own beds. Things will eventually even out, but having the first two games in Saskatoon is something that has to feel good to this organization.
It will be interesting to see the feeling out process between these two teams. They aren't overly familiar with each other, having met 4 times throughout the year. The Blades won all 4 of those games, so Kootenay will really want to get things off on the right foot, no doubt.
Here are my keys to the game:
- They need someone to step up offensively. Cody Eakin will be the key guy to shutdown, and if he is covered well tonight they need another player to hit the score sheet in a big way.
- Nathan Lieuwen needs to be big. He has been this team’s backbone this season and he needs to show why in a very big game one.
- And get the powerplay rolling. They were only 3 for 27 in the opening round against Moose Jaw.
- Come out physical. They can’t wait for a feeling out process, they need to hit Kootenay in the mouth right off the bat.
- Offense from the blueline needs to continue. It’s an edge the Blades have over Kootenay when looking at the rosters and that needs to be something this team can count on.
- And go hard at Brayden McNabb. The big Ice blueliner is a monster that plays a ton of minutes. They need to make him work every single time out and try to tire him out as this series goes along.
Puck drop goes at 7:05 from CUC, with our pregame on 92.9 The Bull starting at 6:00.