Raiders win their fourth post-holiday game against the Saskatoon Blades
The Christmas season has come and gone, but the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades treated the crowd at the Art Hauser Centre to a bone-crunching, high-scoring rivalry game. With a depleted lineup — without Austin Glover (illness), Simon Stransky and Vojtech Budik (World Juniors) — the Raiders came back from the holiday break with a 5-3 victory. Cody Paivarinta, Luke Coleman, Cole Fonstad, Drew Warkentine and Cavin Leth lit the post-Christmas Christmas tree, gaining an early lead while keeping the Blades in the rearview for the rest of the contest.
“I liked every part of our game,” head coach Marc Habscheid said following the game.
“[It was] all hands on deck, guys responded and really played hard. We played a thorough game tactically, good energy and we scored some goals so it was all good.”
Offence came from an unlikely source in the early parts of the first period. The big defencemen for the Raiders continued to step to the plate as Paivarinta sprinted down the left wing, wristing his first career WHL goal home for a 1-0 lead.
From behind the bench, Habscheid was only complimentary of the way Paivarinta played with and without the puck.
“He played real good tonight,” he said.
“We need him to play well, he’s 18-years-old and he’s going to be getting more quality minutes and we need him to play and I thought this was one of the best games he’s played for us.”
It was the first notch the green and gold had scored against Logan Flodell in six periods this season, and they weren’t finished. Coleman then ended a drought that lasted 18 games, finding the back of the net for the first time since Nov. 2 against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
“It’s nice to finally get my goal but even bigger to get the two points,” Coleman said.
“It’s nice to get the fresh start after Christmas.”
Big number 28 picked up his sixth of the campaign before Fonstad clapped home his sixth on the power play. With the tally, Prince Albert has now scored on the man advantage in three straight games.
“Confidence is a beautiful thing,” Habscheid said of his teams’ power play success.
The Blades would cut into the deficit late in the frame on a shorthanded opportunity. A turnover at the blue line led to a Logan Christensen breakaway, who made no mistake in beating Ian Scott on a backhand move for his eighth of the season.
Prince Albert wasn’t going to watch their lead dwindle in the second, Kolby Johnson made sure of it. After a spirited bout with Evan Fiala, one that saw both enforcers connect on multiple right hooks, an energized Warkentine netted his second of the season. Tim Vanstone and Coleman collaborated on the tic-tac-toe tally.
The Blades would rebound with a five-on-three goal from Braylon Shmyr, but it was still a 4-2 advantage for the green and gold heading into the final chapter.
Parker Kelly sprung Leth for a breakaway through the neutral zone five minutes into third period puck drop. The Taber, AB product continued his scoring ways, snapping a wrist shot for his ninth of the campaign before bowling himself through the crease. It was his third goal in his last seven games. Going the other way, the Blades were able to come back with a power play goal from Shmyr, but wouldn’t inch any closer on the scoreboard following his second of the tilt.
Prince Albert wants to duplicate their performance as they head to Saskatoon to play in hostile territory tomorrow night.
“Back-to-back games so I’m sure they want to get back at us tomorrow,” Habscheid said.
“We want the sweep. We want to go in there and win, we’re happy with tonight, we’ll enjoy tonight and reload for tomorrow.”
Puck drop is 7 p.m.
Daily Herald THREE STARS
- Cody Paivarinta (1 G, +3)
- Drew Warkentine (1 G, 1 A)
- Luke Coleman (1 G, 1 A)
Rhett Rhinehart played in his first game as a member of the green and gold tonight. The 13th overall selection of the 2016 WHL draft played limited minutes, but coach Habscheid liked what he saw from the 15-year-old.
“You want to be careful with him and let him get his feet wet,” he said.
“He did fine, he’s a big kid with a lot of potential.”
Rhinehart is eligible to play in four more games with the Raiders this season.