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Saskatoon Blades hope 'sound, structured' style might be enough to stave off Bedard

The Saskatoon Blades anticipate Friday’s playoff opener against the Regina Pats could be another sold-out game.

Director of business operations Tyler Wawryk says tickets are half sold already, and if the last two matchups with the Pats — and WHL lead-scorer Connor Bedard — were any indication, they’ll go fast.

“It’s huge for the club and it’s huge for the city as well,” he said.

“I met a few guys that came into our team store Friday morning — they flew in from Kitchener, Ontario … we’ve heard from fans. They’re travelling from all over the province, even places like Alberta and Manitoba that maybe didn’t have a chance to see Connor play. We’re seeing that from everywhere.”

Having the stands full, and people travelling from out of the city for games, has a huge economic impact for the city and province, says Wawryk.

The atmosphere has been electric, he said.

“It was wild. You could feel it in your chest when everybody stood for ‘Oh, Canada;’ just the emotion, the energy.”

Wawryk said they had 10,000 people at SaskTel Centre for warmups alone, “which is just absurd.”

This level of attention has been an adjustment for the players, he says. They were nervous at first, but they’ve embraced it.

“As a teenager to be able to play in front of what would be an NHL-type crowd, it’s special for them and their families. They’re coming from all over the country to see their sons play.”

It helps that the Blades have one of the strongest teams in its 60-year history.

“We broke 100 points for only the fifth time in 60 seasons,” said Wawryk.

“We have a really good team. We play defensively. We have two great goaltenders. We don’t have anybody in the top ten scoring, so we don’t rely on that. We play a real sound, structured game, and that’s what we have to do, because he [Bedard] is a generational talent and he is capable of taking over a game.”

Even without the Bedard bump, he says the club has seen major growth in attendance — up 30 per cent over last year.

“Just to see that fan support continue to grow and grow, and people getting comfortable being back in the larger crowd settings again, has probably been the most special part of this season.”

-With files from Laura Woodward Top Stories

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