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A third period powerplay goal and an outstanding effort between the pipes by veteran Braden Holtby proved to be the difference Friday night in the opening game of a pivotal 2-game weekend series at Westman Place.

Holtby made 35 saves, including 31 through the first two periods to backstop Saskatoon to a come from behind 4-3 victory over the hometown Wheat Kings.

Trailing 2-1 the Blades evened the score four minutes into the final period when Ryan Funk's shot eluded Brandon goalkeeper Andrew Hayes. The goal came seconds after Wheat Kings' defenceman Darren Bestland was slapped with a 2 minute instigating penalty after a fight with Saskatoon's Darian Dzivrzynski.

41 seconds after tieing the score, Sam Klassen made it 3-2 Saskatoon. The Wheat Kings did manage to tie things up midway through the period but Adam Chorneyko's goal with just over seven minutes remaining in the third period put the Blades on top to stay.

With the win, the Blades moved six points up on second place Brandon in the WHL's Eastern Division. The Wheat Kings, who still have one game in hand, need a victory on Saturday before the two teams travel back to Saskatoon for a Tuesday night date.

The loss snapped Brandon's 5-game winning streak and was only its second regulation time loss in the past 20 home games.

Cale Jefferies, Del Cowan and Colby Robak scored for the Wheat Kings, who outshot the Blades 38-21. Brandon's powerplay, which entered the weekend as the third best in the league, went 1-8 including 0-2 in the final five minutes of regulation time.

Tickets to the rematch go back on sale Saturday morning at the Keystone Centre box office. Fans can also order by phone at 726-3555 or online at
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