Beaver Blues, Combines off to perfect starts in SPHL

By Nathan Kanter
December 7, 2017 - 4:42pm

Things are finally starting to pick up in the Saskatchewan Prairie Hockey League, and although it's still very early on, the Battleford Beaver Blues and Meota Combines are the only undefeated teams that have played at least two games.

It just so happens that the 4-0 Blues and 2-0 Combines will also go head-to-head on Friday night at the Civic Centre.

"It's always a good crowd and it's always good games," Combines forward Aaron Cadrin said of head-to-head contests between the two Battlefords teams. "Overall it's good for the community to have two teams. A little bit of competitiveness fuels the rivalry and makes things more exciting."

Unfortunately, the Combines will have a severely shortened lineup for Friday's game, as several players are on holidays and a couple others, including captain Brett Miller, are hurt.

But with Blake Tatchell joining the team this season after a professional stint with the East Coast Hockey League's Wichita Thunder and a full college career in Alaska, Cadrin said there is a ton of positivity this season for Meota.

"There's a different feeling around the room this year having [Tatchell] and our other pickups," Cadrin said. "I think we've kind of all bought in that we're 100 per cent all in this year. It's win or nothing.

"Him bringing his experience does wonders for us. Not to mention he's playing with his brothers in front of his hometown and playing with some North Stars that he grew up playing with. Everyone is really, really excited."

The Combines beat up on the defending champion Edam Three Stars 7-1 in their first game.

Then they beat Radisson 16-4 last Saturday.

"Everyone took pretty big notes that we beat Edam 7-1 right off the start," Cadrin said. "I think just our overall depth is the best I've ever seen it this year. We've got guys playing third and fourth line that could play first and second line on mostly any other team."

As for the Blues, who started their season with a win over Edam as well, forward Mike George believed depth has played it's part too.

"We've had all four lines contributing, whether it's finishing their checks or scoring goals," George said. "It all adds up in the end."

He also said the team's transition game is a big strength, thanks to some younger faces on the blueline.

"Our defence moves a lot better than they did last year," George said. "They've been getting the puck to the forwards quickly. It's keeping more offensive time. When the puck is 200 feet away from our net, it's pretty tough to score on us."

The Blues are coming off a 7-2 win over Maymont last Saturday. They've only allowed eight total goals in four games, and have scored 32 themselves.

"All in all, it's been a good team effort," George said.

The Combines and Blues will meet just one more time this season, with that game set for Jan. 19 in Battleford.

 

nathan.kanter@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @NathanKanter11

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