By Ryan McCracken on November 9, 2018.
It’s been 10 months since Max Gerlach left the Canalta Centre to forge a new future with the Saskatoon Blades.
In that time, Gerlach has racked up 56 points over 49 games while helping guide the Blades back into the playoff conversation this season. As a result, the former Medicine Hat Tiger says he hasn’t thought much about tonight’s long-awaited return to the Gas City. As far as Gerlach is concern, he’s all Blade now.
“It’s just going to be another game, really,” said Gerlach, whose Blades hit the ice to face the Tigers tonight at 7:30 p.m. “If I would have gone back last year at the end of the year or anything like that it would have been a bit different, but I’ve been a Blade since last January … It’ll probably be a bit weird getting into the opposing dressing room, but then again that’s where we were for two years when I was there.”
Gerlach won’t be the only familiar face wearing blue, as tonight’s matchup also marks the return of Gary Haden, who requested a trade from the Tigers earlier this season. Haden parted ways with the Tigers in search of more ice time and he seems to have found it after spending the last few games centring Saskatoon’s top line between his former teammate in Gerlach and highly-touted NHL draft prospect Kirby Dach.
See HADEN, Page A10
“Obviously Gary and I have some chemistry from playing together last year, and he’s a smart, quick hockey player. He’s great at scoring goals and he’s a great passer too so I think we’ve just got a bit of everything on our line and it’s clicking well right now,” said Gerlach. “I think everyone knows Kirby is a very high-end player. He’s one of the best players in the league so it’s pretty easy to play with him. He’s more of a passer so I think he kind of looks for me and I find the soft spots on the ice pretty well.”
Gerlach — who potted the first goal ever scored in the Canalta Centre as a member of the Tigers on Sept. 26, 2015 — has managed to put up at least 30 goals in every one of his three seasons in the Western Hockey League, and that prowess for the net seems to have intensified since suiting up in Saskatoon. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound right winger has been averaging 0.63 goals per game since becoming a Blade — netting 31 in 49 contests — after posting an average of 0.45 through 179 games with Medicine Hat.
“It’s going well and I’m enjoying it,” he said. “Our power play is starting to click here, so that’s going well and we’ve got two really solid goalies. Our coaches set out a pretty good game plan for us every single night. When we’re executing it how they want us to, it’s pretty tough to stop us.”
While he’s only faced the Tigers twice since being shipped to Saskatoon in exchange for Bryan Lockner and a pair of bantam draft picks at least season’s trade deadline, Gerlach has managed to be a thorn in his former team’s side with a goal and an assist in the process.
“I’ve got some really good teammates here, a lot of offensive guys,” said Gerlach. “Even when we’re switching up lines and things like that you’re always playing with a really good player who can create some opportunities.”
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