Raiders even up Eastern Conference final

David Bloom/Postmedia Prince Albert Raiders forward Noah Gregor celebrates his third period goal against the the Edmonton Oil Kings at Rogers Place Wednesday night.

After back-to-back losses to the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Prince Albert Raiders’ veteran players stepped up when their team needed them the most on Wednesday night.

Brett Leason and Noah Gregor found the back of the net and Ian Scott made 25 saves as the Raiders picked up a 2-1 triumph at Rogers Place and have tied up the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final at two wins apiece.

“We didn’t like our performance yesterday (in a 5-1 loss to the Oil Kings) and we played a lot better here tonight,” Gregor said.

“Our confidence level is up once again heading into Game 5 at home and we’re hoping to keep up our level of play there.”

According to Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid, a pre-game film session gave the team some extra motivation ahead of Game 4.

“We let them watch last night’s game after our breakfast and asked them what they thought about it during our pre-game meal,” Habscheid said.

“The Raiders are back playing their game. We hit some posts, but I thought we had more chances and we imposed our will on them tonight.”

Turnovers by the Oil Kings proved costly as the Raiders took advantage of a pair of defensive miscues to get their goals.

Just seconds after they killed off a Jakob Brook cross-checking penalty, Dante Hannoun forced a turnover in the Oil Kings end and Leason was able to snipe a shot by Dylan Myskiw for his fourth of the playoffs at the 13:01 mark of the second.

The Raiders would double their lead with 2:31 gone in the final frame, as Ozzy Wiesblatt pounced on a loose puck behind the net and made a slick feed to Gregor, who blasted home his sixth of the post-season.

“One of the biggest keys for us this year is to play with speed and we were back to using our pace tonight,” Gregor said.

“We were also using our bodies more and we had a couple of guys in on the forecheck, which is how we were able to get our two goals tonight. The second guy forced the turnover and was able to find the guy in the slot.”

Like they did in Game 1 in Prince Albert last Friday, the Oil Kings turned up the wick in the final minutes to try and tie the game.

Wyatt McLeod’s shot made its way through traffic with 6:06 to go in regulation to bring the hosts within one, but Scott stood tall the rest of the way as he turned aside 10 shots in the final frame.

“The compete level for us was higher all around tonight, which definitely helped,” Scott said.

“I think we’ve played well as a whole on defence so far. We’ve had a couple of unlucky bounces, but we’ve kept plugging away out there and doing our jobs.”

Myskiw made 25 saves in the loss, including a big stop on a Leason breakaway in the final minutes to keep the score at 2-1.

The two sides will square off again at 7 p.m. Friday at the Art Hauser Centre, with game six taking place at 2 p.m. Sunday in Edmonton.

A seventh and deciding contest, if necessary, would be held in Prince Albert at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Post-Game Notes

Tickets for Friday’s matchup at the Art Hauser Centre will go sale at 9 a.m. Thursday at the box office, with a limit of six per person.

Online sales will get underway an hour later.

Tickets for Game 6 on Sunday in Edmonton will go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Wednesday’s lineups were the exact same as the night before, as Loeden Schaufler and Cole Nagy did not play for the Raiders, while the Oil Kings scratched Logan Dowhaniuk, Jacson Alexander, Aidan Lawson, Keagan Slaney, Dylan Guenther, Jalen Luypen and Carter Souch.

Wednesday’s Scores

WHL

  • Vancouver 4 Spokane 3 (Vancouver leads 3-1 – Dawson Holt Overtime Winner – Bowen Byram – One Goal and One Assist)

OHL

  • Ottawa 2 Oshawa 1 (Ottawa wins 4-0 and advances to the league final for the first time since 2005 – Tye Felhaber Overtime Winner – Two Goals)
  • Saginaw 4 Guelph 1 (Saginaw leads 3-1 – Cole Perfetti – Two Goals)

QMJHL

  • Halifax 5 Drummondville 2 (Halifax leads 3-1 – Alexis Gravel – 33 Saves)
  • Rouyn-Noranda 6 Rimouski 3 (Rouyn-Noranda wins 4-0 and advances to the league final for the first time since 2016 – Felix Bibeau – Two Goals)

Friday’s Schedule

OHL

  • Guelph vs. Saginaw (Game 5) – 5 p.m.

QMJHL

  • Halifax vs. Drummondville (Game 5) – 5:30 p.m.

WHL

  • Edmonton vs. Prince Albert (Game 5) – 7 p.m.
  • Spokane vs. Vancouver (Game 5) – 8:30 p.m.