Montgomery’s first career hat trick leads Raiders past Blades

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Aliaksei Protas and Brett Leason skate over to celebrate with their Prince Albert Raiders linemate Sean Montgomery after his first period goal Friday against the Saskatoon Blades.

A nationally televised playoff matchup against your big rivals is as good a time as any to notch your first career Western Hockey League hat trick.

In his 362nd game for the Prince Albert Raiders, overage forward Sean Montgomery was finally able to record a three-goal night as he helped his team to a 6-1 win over the Saskatoon Blades Friday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Art Hauser Centre.

“The guys were starting to give it to me a little bit in the locker room after I scored my second goal,” Montgomery said. “It took a while, so it’s nice to finally get one.

“That was the most hats I’ve seen on the ice in a long time. It’s good to see that the fans liked it.”

It was a moment that the sellout crowd of 3,289 appreciated as they peppered the ice with an assortment of headwear for the Raiders all times games played record holder.

“I’m not sure what it was like up in the stands, but tonight might have been the craziest I’ve ever seen the rink here,” Raiders forward Parker Kelly said.

“We were all super excited to see Sean have a night like this. It feels like he’s been here for 100 years, but he’s the heart and soul of our team and three-goal games are hard to come by in this league.”

Montgomery’s linemate Brett Leason turned in a strong performance for the hosts as he scored a goal and dished out three helpers.

“It felt like we were back to our old ways again from the start of the season,” Montgomery said. “I’m not sure if things got stale for our line (which also includes Aliaksei Protas) after a bit, but we didn’t miss a beat in this game.”

“We have the luxury to move guys around with our depth and we did that a bit when Brett was gone at the World Juniors for Canada and with some of the injuries we had,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid added. “With that said, those guys had their old mojo back tonight.”

Kelly notched a pair of goals for the hosts, while Sergei Sapego had a pair of helpers and Ian Scott made 23 saves to help the Raiders improve to 5-0 in the post-season.

“We just kept building up our momentum as the game went on,” Leason said. “Once we went up 2-1, things just took off and we built our energy from what the crowd was giving us.”

Chase Wouters had the lone goal for the Blades, who suffered their first loss of the playoffs following a sweep of the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Nolan Maier made 31 saves for the visitors but was pulled at the 7:04 mark of the third period after the Raiders went up 5-1.

Koen MacInnes, who was a second round pick by the Blades in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, made his major junior debut during the final 12 minutes and stopped two shots.

The East Division foes will be back in action Sunday for a 6 p.m. matchup at the Art Hauser Centre, which will again be televised on Sportsnet.

Post-Game Notes

Montgomery became the first Raiders player to record a post-season hat trick since Milan Kraft accomplished that feat on March 30, 2000 in a 3-2 road win over the Swift Current Broncos in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series.

Saskatoon last allowed a three-goal performance in a playoff game on March 27, 2012 when Emerson Etem provided all of the offence for the Medicine Hat Tigers in a 3-2 overtime affair at the then named Credit Union Centre in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarter-final matchup.

Loeden Schaufler was the lone scratch for the Raiders, while the Blades did not dress Dorrin Luding, Alex Ozar, Majid Kadourra, Randen Schmidt and Colton Dach.

Friday’s Scores

WHL

  • Vancouver 3 Victoria 0 (Vancouver leads 1-0 – Bowen Byram – Two Assists – Trent Miner 15 Saves – First Career Playoff Shutout)

OHL

  • Ottawa 8 Sudbury 5 (Ottawa leads 1-0 – Lucas Chiodo – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Playoff Hat Trick – Tye Felhaber – Three Goals – First Career Playoff Hat Trick)
  • Niagara 3 Oshawa 2 (Niagara leads 1-0 – Jason Robertson Overtime Winner – Ivan Lodnia – Three Assists)
  • Saginaw 4 Sault Ste. Marie 1 (Saginaw leads 1-0 – Owen Tippett – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • London 3 Guelph 2 (London leads 1-0 – Kevin Hancock – One Goal and One Assist)

QMJHL

  • Halifax 5 Moncton 3 (Halifax leads 1-0 – Raphael Lavoie – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Drummondville 9 Sherbrooke 4 (Drummondville leads 1-0 – Maxime Comtois – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Rouyn-Noranda 4 Victoriaville 0 (Rouyn-Noranda leads 1-0 – Alex Beaucage – Two Assists)
  • Rimouski 3 Cape Breton 1 (Rimouski leads 1-0 – Alexis Lafreniere – One Goal and Two Assists)

Around the CHL

Ahead of Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League draft, the Kingston Frontenacs announced on Friday that they would be selecting forward Shane Wright with the first overall pick.

Wright, who was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada last month and will enter the OHL as a 15-year-old, had 150 points in 72 games this season with Don Mills Flyers.

Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Ice made an interesting move on Wednesday when they acquired the rights to 17-year-old forward Carter Savoie from the Regina Pats for a 2019 fifth round draft pick and two conditional picks.

Savoie, who is the older brother of 2019 WHL Bantam Draft top prospect Matthew, had 73 points in 58 games for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders this year and is committed to the NCAA’s Denver Pioneers.

Saturday’s Schedule

QMJHL

  • Sherbrooke vs. Drummondville (Game 2) – 2 p.m.
  • Moncton vs. Halifax (Game 2) – 4 p.m.
  • Victoriaville vs. Rouyn-Noranda (Game 2) – 5 p.m.

WHL

  • Calgary vs. Edmonton (Game 1) – 7 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Vancouver (Game 2) – 8 p.m.
  • Spokane vs. Everett (Game 1) – 8 p.m.

Sunday’s Schedule

OHL

  • Sudbury vs. Ottawa (Game 2) – 12 p.m.
  • Oshawa vs. Niagara (Game 2) – 12 p.m.
  • Guelph vs. London (Game 2) – 12 p.m.
  • Sault Ste. Marie vs. Saginaw (Game 2) – 3:30 p.m.

QMJHL

  • Cape Breton vs. Rimouski (Game 2) – 1 p.m.

WHL

  • Calgary vs. Edmonton (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
  • Spokane vs. Everett (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
  • Saskatoon vs. Prince Albert (Game 2) – 6 p.m.