Saskatoon Blazers treating stretch run like a mini playoff series
Following their 7–1 win over the Notre Dame Hounds on Sunday, the Saskatoon Blazers overtook the Hounds for third place in the SMAAAHL standings.
With four games remaining and two games in hand on the teams that they trail, the Blazers could finish in first place and are viewing this stretch of games as a pre-playoff series.
“Really it comes down to focusing on every game and knowing that if we don’t win that next game then we won’t finish first,” said forward Parker Lalonde. “Regina’s in first right now and if they don’t lose then they’ll finish first. But, if we focus on every game we’ll put ourselves in a good position to finish first.”
“We know we have to push hard (until) the end of the season,” said forward Alec Saretzky.
“We’re working into playoffs and every day you’ve got to bring your best.”
All of the team’s final four games come at home where they’re 14–4 this season.
“We’re really confident at home, we know what the rink’s like, we know how the fans are and they’re great,” Lalonde said.
“Just getting all of these fans, and getting hyped up for playoff games, I think it’s just an amazing experience when you get to play at home here,” said forward Nolan Flamand.
“These are all testing point, and what we see is a good challenge, we’ve got good teams that are coming in here and again, we’re going to be busy for the next five days,” added head coach Scott Scissons. “This is like being at the Mac’s, what we’re trying to do is make sure that we’re properly fed and watered, and that we’re getting our rest and sleep so that we’re ready to go.”
Two of their final four opponents are below .500 and won’t qualify for the playoffs this season, however, the Blazers know better than to take any team lightly.
“You look at our league and every in the top eight are above .500, and they’re strong,” Scissons said. “Not to say anything against the other four teams, they’re always tough games, and this league breeds tough hockey. This time of the year it’s very hard, and we’re talking about it to our kids, you’ve got to pay a price for these games now and you’ve got to come in ready to play.
A deep roster has given Scissons lots of options in all phases and situations game-in and game-out, however, it hasn’t come without its difficulties.
“We’ve got 15 kids with 20 points, now, not everyone gets out,” Scissons explained. “We try to be pretty fair with our power play, and you roll it where guys get grumpy about not getting enough powerplay time, especially the guys that have been here longer. But, they also know our process, we try to roll everyone out, we try to get ice time for everybody.
Luckily for Scissons and his staff, the players have bought in.
“Just staying focused and knowing that you have a big role, no matter who you are and just knowing that you have a ‘B’ in front of your jersey, and you’ve just got to play well,” Flamand said.
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