Dethroning the Oil Kings

Drew Warkentine celebrates his first of the season with Cole Fonstad and Austin Glover © Dustin Saracini/Daily Herald

It’s all about defending home ice.

Prior to puck drop, the Prince Albert Raiders and the Edmonton Oil Kings had successfully defended their home building, splitting the two-game series. That would be the case tonight, as an overtime marker from Austin Glover propelled the Raiders to a 4-3 overtime win, snapping a four-game slide. A hero emerged in the name of Nick Heid, who scored his first WHL marker tonight. A couple of timely goals from Cavin Leth and Drew Warkentine ultimately earned the green and gold two points to start a busy four-game week.

“[Edmonton] scored late and then again, our guys showed good character,” head coach Marc Habscheid said following the win.

“We hung in there and then got the goal in overtime, so it was a good win for our kids. They kept pushing and tonight they got rewarded… the will to win was there and that’s what we want.”

The win can seem bigger than usual, as the Raiders were down two of their top skaters in Simon Stransky and Vojtech Budik. Both players are taking part in Czech Republic selection camp. Although he’d rather have his linemate skating alongside him, Glover, with two points tonight, doesn’t feel any added pressure without him.

“He’s obviously a really talented player,” he said of Stransky.

“Him and I kind of feed off one another, but it happens, you lose guys, we have some good skill, especially some of those young guys. So, they stepped in and they’ve done a great job.”

Following a scoreless opening frame, the Raiders continued to play smart hockey in their own territory in the second, collapsing on numerous second chance opportunities. Habscheid said this was something they focused on ahead of tonight’s contest.

“We just wanted to make sure we were on the right side of the park,” he noted.

“We certainly don’t want to play a boring style of game, we want our players to develop, we want them to play an up-tempo game … but at the same time you can still play that way and still play solid defensively.”

Edmonton broke through with a goal from Lane Bauer at the 4:04 mark. It was a tremendous tic-tac-toe play that finally drew the defence of Prince Albert out of position. Trey Fix-Wolansky, given a “C” grade in the most recent CHL rankings, dropped a pass to Davis Koch outside of the right hash marks. The third year Oil King was able feed a backdoor pass to a lurking Bauer who shovelled in his team leading 22nd of the season, narrowly beating the right pad of Ian Scott.

The Raiders offence struck back from an unlikely goal scorer. In three seasons at the WHL level, 105 games, defensive defenceman Heid found the back of the net for the first time. As he skated to the bench, he ripped the metaphorical monkey off his back.

“It was definitely really special, a really special moment,” Heid said.

“It feels even better to get the win, so I feel really happy about it.”

The Prince Albert attack didn’t stop at one, capitalizing on their fourth power play opportunity of the night. Leth corralled a pass from Tim Vanstone from outside the right faceoff circle, sliding a puck through the pillows of Dea to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead heading into the third. Spencer Moe extended his point streak to three games with the initial helper.

Edmonton and Prince Albert exchanged blows in the third. When I write blows, I mean a couple of absolute bombs from the slot. Aaron Irving knotted things on the power play with a bar-down slapshot for his 12th; three minutes later, it was Warkentine labelling the back of the net with a man advantage marker of his own. Cole Fonstad and Glover drew the assists, extending their own point streaks to three and six, respectively. The teeter-totter continued with a Will Warm tally, who potted his second against the Raiders this season, sending the tilt to overtime.

Over a minute into the extra frame, Glover ignited the crowd with a rebound goal off a Zack Hayes shot, ensuring the Raiders’ seventh win of the season.

“When the first [shot] didn’t go in I was kind of nervous there,” he said.

“But it came right back to me. It’s nice to get the win and feels good to help the team out.”

On deck is a tilt in Moose Jaw tomorrow before a home-and-home weekend series against the Swift Current Broncos.

Daily Herald THREE STARS

Austin Glover (1 G, 1 A, GWG)

Nick Heid (1 G)

Parker Kelly (2 A)

Milestones

While suiting up for tonight’s game, Parker Kelly played in his 100th WHL contest. He was rewarded with the secondary assist on the Heid notch and the overtime winner.

“He just works. He’s just a hockey player,” coach Habscheid said.

“He competes, loves the game, he’s energetic. That’s contagious, too. He brings a lot of energy to our group in the room and on the ice.”

Kelly currently has four goals and seven assists in 32 games played this year. Overall, the ‘99 born forward has tallied 30 points at the WHL level.

Thierman Financial