Alexander Suzdalev returns to WHL to help Blades claim elusive championship

Former Regina Pat Alexander Suzdalev’s 2023-24 hockey season has been a worldwide adventure.

The 19-year-old forward began the season with the Washington Capitals AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. After not seeing any action with the Bears, he was loaned to Mora IK in Sweden’s Divisional One League.

Suzdalev had three points (2G-1A) in 13 games before the Capitals, and his agency decided a return to the Western Hockey League(WHL) was best for the situation for the forward.

The Pats sent Suzdalev to the top team in the WHL Saskatoon Blades for a package of players and picks, including Zach Moore and Samuel Barcik.

The leader in rookie scoring in the Western Hockey League last season was ready to debut with Blades on Friday against the Pats in the Brandt Centre, but his equipment didn’t arrive in time.

During the second intermission of Friday’s Regina-Saskatoon matchup, Suzdalev was a guest on the broadcast on 620 CKRM with Dante De Caria.

Memories came rushing back to the ex-Pats forward as he visited the Brandt Centre for the first time since last season. He got the opportunity to visit old friends and billets and reminisce.

“For sure great experience after seeing them for a long time, it went fast though, since last year’s playoff, feels good to see everybody.”

Alexander Suzdalev Photo: Keith Hershmiller Photography

With the talent that was in Regina last season, Suzdalev felt the Pats had the potential to make a deeper run in the playoffs.

The Blades have a long playoff run in mind, with the franchise seeking its first-ever WHL championship. Earlier this season, they acquired Fraser Minten from the Kamloops Blazers in their first major move.

Suzdalev says his main objective is to do whatever is needed to help the Blades win a championship.

“Wherever they want him, I’ll play, and help the team win.”

On Saturday, Suzdalev played his first game for the Blades against the Prince Albert Raiders and collected an assist in Saskatoon’s 2-1 shootout loss.

Despite his struggles, the 2004-born forward aims to learn from this year’s experience.

“I that’s a good learning experience too, getting stuck a little and asking why you get stuck, maybe things not going your way, because it’s pro hockey too, you got to overcome those challenges too.”

One area that Suzdalev aims to improve is his strength. He achieved his goal of gaining ten pounds over the summer.

Even though last year’s Pats squad has dispersed on their paths, including Connor Bedard heading to the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks and Stanislav Svozil now in the AHL with the Clevland Monsters, the bond remains strong within the group.

“I don’t think words can describe I had with that team, it was such a good group, we text with the players from that team.”

Suzdalev added that he tries to catch Bedard and the Blackhawks whenever he has a free opportunity and is not surprised that his former teammate in Regina has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie campaign.

“I feel like everything he (Bedard) did on the ice with the Pats, he’s doing this year in the NHL.”

There will be two more meetings between the Pats and the Blades during the 2023-24 regular season, but both matchups will be in Bridge City this month. The Blades will host the Pats at Sask-Tel Centre on Sunday, and Regina will make their final trip to Saskatoon on January 31.

But if the Pats could find a way into the playoffs, they could face the Blades in the first round for the second straight year, except this year, Suzdalev will be on the other side of the provincial rivalry.

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