The latest Canadian Hockey League power rankings from December 20th show that the Saskatoon Blades (#4) are a top five major junior hockey team in all of Canada.
West Central native in Rosetown's Vaughn Watterodt is happy to be a part of the impressive team that had just five regulation losses headed into a pair of tough losses to the #2 ranked Winnipeg ICE this past weekend. Even without a win the trip wasn't a total loss as the Blades managed to pick-up one point during New Year's Eves overtime loss, and Watterodt continued his hot stretch in scoring his team's only goal of the weekend:
Watterodt stays 🔥 deflecting his 14th of the year!— Saskatoon Blades (@BladesHockey) January 1, 2023
We've got a game on our hands... pic.twitter.com/X0tV4WP6hW
Watterodt is a favourite of the Blades' social media team, also sharing this terrific post earlier in that game:
Could feel that one all the way back in Rosetown💥 pic.twitter.com/MkjV2ZjLF8— Saskatoon Blades (@BladesHockey) December 31, 2022
West Central Online got into contact with Watterodt following last weeks impressive Teddy Bear Toss Night performance against the Prince Albert Raiders where he scored the initial goal to let the teddy's fly, and then followed it up with two more for his first career WHL hat-trick.
"It was obviously really awesome. I had a lot of family and friends in the crowd so it was really nice to be able to score that hat-trick, and get that Teddy Bear Toss goal."
Vaughn was quick to comment on the energy in the building last Tuesday with a crowd of just over 6,000 people. Blades fans have been treated to a terrific on-ice product so far this season, and Watterodt talked about just what makes them so consistent.
"We are a really well rounded team. We have had the least goals against in the league, and that shows how much pride we take in our defensive zone, and how good both of our goalies have been this year," said Watterodt as each of the Blades netminders are in the top five for GAA, and have nearly split the teams victories perfectly between them.
The team's back-end was already strong, and a few acquisitions made up front to the forwards have seemingly shot the entire team as a unit to the next level.
"We all have a role on the team which is really nice to see. Everyone is contributing up and down the lineup. We made some good trades for some veteran leadership in this league," said Watterodt mentioning the acquisitions of Justin Lies and NHL draft pick Connor Roulette as some of the key additions to the forward group. The young local player can already notice the experience paying off in the Blades locker room.
"(Roulette) went to the finals last year with Seattle, so he brings that unique experience in. It's been really nice."
Watterodt is enjoying a nice season offensively so far as his recent marker in Winnipeg tied the offseason addition in Roulette in goals for the year with 14, and one last night against Calgary overtook him at 15.
The offense is nice, but Watterodt wants to keep his game simple, and energy high, to continue being a player to watch in Saskatoon.
"Feels good to be able to produce for the team and help out offensively," said Watterodt. His special teams play has been especially impressive. "A big part of my game is my defense, and penalty killing, which has been a staple for me all year. Lately I have also been able to get on the first powerplay unit, which has been nice in a net front role."
Watterodt said he knew he had the points in him, and getting the puck to the net more than he has in the past has allowed the 2004 born forward to tally a few more goals and scoring opportunities in general.
Blades Head Coach Brennan Sonne is happy to see his player breaking out, as Watterodt has been stapled into the third line right wing role all season long in an energy role for the team. What Sonne sees in his player is a skater who works hard every single day to help provide some juice for his team. Watterodt appreciates the recognition, saying that heart and hustle has always been a big part of his skillset.
"I think it's really important to have good practices, I try to bring energy like Coach Sonne says. That's just part of my personality and how I have always been. An energy guy that helps myself, as well as the team, which has been nice. I know what I bring to the table and I just try and go out and perform for the guys."
After a home date with the Calgary Hitmen last night, Watterodt and the Blades are off until Friday when they travel to Swift Current, and then the team is back at home for a heavyweight tilt against the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday night.