There’s picture perfect starts and then there’s what the Prince Albert Raiders did on Tuesday night.
In one of the wildest opening frames in the history of the Ed Chynoweth Cup, the Raiders found the back of the net seven times and stunned the crowd at the Langley Events Centre as they picked up an 8-2 win over the Vancouver Giants and took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven affair.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We knew that Vancouver was coming to come out hard so we didn’t want to wait around and see what they were going to do.
“Even with the start that we had, we made sure that we kept an even keel out there,” Raiders forward and assistant captain Parker Kelly added. “We didn’t get carried away and we kept trying to make smart plays.”
It only took two minutes and 27 seconds for the Raiders to chase Giants starting netminder David Tendeck from the game as Kelly and Ozzy Wiesblatt gave the visitors an early lead.
“I got a little bit lucky on that goal that I scored (just 41 seconds into the game) but it helped us get going on the right foot,” Kelly said.
The Giants would then get into penalty trouble and things only got worse from there as Brett Leason scored twice and Cole Fonstad got his second goal of the playoffs to give the Raiders a 5-0 cushion after eight minutes and 20 seconds of play.
“Our chemistry is really good right through all of the lines,” Leason said. “We don’t get too high or too low with what’s happening in the game and we’re always there for each other.”
Kelly got his second goal of the night on a breakaway late in the frame and Noah Gregor would complete the first period onslaught in the final minute, which also spelled the end of the night for Giants backup Trent Miner as Tendeck finished out the game.
“It just went from bad to worse,” Giants head coach Michael Dyck said. “We were on our heels and they were able to generate momentum. Everything that the Raiders put on net went in.
“We’ve always pulled together when we’ve been in tough situations this year. Obviously, this is a little bit different than most and especially when you lose in front of your home crowd, but this is still a series. We lost a game and now we’ll get ready to bounce back in Game 4.”
Dante Hannoun would get his 22nd point of the playoffs, which has him one marker back of Giants blueliner Bowen Byram for the league lead, on a power play goal in the second period.
Leason had two goals and two assists to lead the way on offence for the Raiders, who got a pair of goals from Kelly along with a goal and an assist each from Gregor and Hannoun.
Sean Montgomery, Aliaksei Protas and Justin Nachbaur had a pair of assists in the victory, which saw Ian Scott make 27 saves.
Yannik Valenti and Brayden Watts both scored for the Giants, with Watts’ second period goal being the first for the team since the final minute of the second period in Friday’s series opener.
Tendeck made 10 saves in 41 minutes of work, while Miner turned aside nine shots during a 17-minute relief stint in the opening frame.
The two sides will be back in action at 8 p.m. Wednesday night in Langley, with Game 5 getting underway at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
If required, Games 6 and 7 will be held at the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday and Monday at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively.
Tuesday’s eight-goal outburst by the Raiders was the most that they have scored in a post-season game since a 7-0 road win over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Game 3 of their 2016 Eastern Conference opening round series.
The last time the team scored eight times in a playoff game was at the Art Hauser Centre on April 11, 1999 in an 8-3 win over the Warriors in the fifth and final game of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup.
The Brandon Wheat Kings were the last team to score eight times in an Ed Chynoweth Cup contest, as they picked up an 8-4 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds to capture the league title in the fifth game of their 2016 matchup.
The Giants have lost back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game skid from Dec. 30 to Jan. 4, which saw them lose to the Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Medicine Hat Tigers and Lethbridge Hurricanes as part of a Central Division road swing.
Max Martin, who left Saturday’s game after crashing into the boards during a race for the puck in the second period, did not play for the Raiders on Tuesday.
The Giants scratched Tyler Ho, Aidan Barfoot, Nic Draffin, Tanner Brown and Evan Patrician.
- Halifax 5 Rouyn-Noranda 1 (Series tied 2-2 – Maxim Trepanier – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Guelph 7 Ottawa 2 (Ottawa leads 2-1 – Nick Suzuki – Three Assists)
- Rouyn-Noranda 5 Halifax 2 (Rouyn-Noranda leads 2-1 – Justin Bergeron – Two Goals)
- Ottawa vs. Guelph (Game 4) – 5 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Vancouver (Game 4) – 8 p.m.