If you get ice-time, you have to contribute.
That was the message Prince Albert Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid delivered to his players after their lackluster loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night, the first of a two-game, weekend swing through Alberta for the team.
The Hurricanes beat the Raiders 4-1 in a game that saw the visiting side outshoot the host team 36-29.
Despite the shot differential, Habscheid was unimpressed with his team’s effort after the loss.
“I didn’t like our start; I didn’t like our first period. I thought we were just kind of … there,” he said.
Lethbridge was aided by the play of its veteran, towering goaltender, Stuart Skinner, whom Habscheid called the difference maker for his team.
“He’s a big guy that takes away a lot of the net. But we had some chances, too. I mean, we should have scored – we missed some wide-open nets, and those you gotta bury,” he said.
First-line centre Sean Montgomery scored the Raiders’ lone goal of the game at 7:59 of the second period. Curtis Miske and Devon Skoleski assisted on the play.
Miske backhanded a pass to a waiting Montgomery in the lower slot area, and the 19-year-old snapped the shot past Skinner on his blocker side.
That cut the Hurricanes’ lead in half, levelling the score to 2-1.
But at 13:44 of the third period, Jayden Davis slipped the puck past Raiders’ goalie Curtis Meger as he squeezed against his left post, effectively sealing the win for Lethbridge.
Hurricanes’ captain Giorgio Estephan added an empty net goal at 18:27 of the game.
“We need some guys that get the quality ice time to score,” Habscheid said after the loss. “I thought no one really stood out. And some nights the guys that get the ice time have to be the difference makers,” he emphasized.
The team had a complete turnaround Saturday night.
The Raiders beat the Medicine Hat Tigers 6-1, thanks to offensive explosions from Jordy Stallard, Kelly Parker and Cole Fonstand, the team’s second line.
Stallard opened the scoring on a powerplay goal at 14:12 of the first period, and then he assisted on every goal thereafter, notching six points on the night.
His linemate, Fonstad, moved with the puck in the Tigers’ zone towards goalie Jordan Hollett. When Fonstad was in line with the face-off dot, he passed the puck cross-ice to Stallard, who was waiting on Hollet’s lower-left crease; he one-timed it past a Tigers defender into the open net.
“We played the right way and everyone (had) the determination to win. That’s what has to be the norm, not the exception,” Habscheid said after the win.
The Tigers tied the game seven seconds into the second period on a Mark Rassell goal, scored on the powerplay. Right off the opening-period draw, the Tigers’ captain emerged on a breakaway and deked out goalie Curtis Meger, roofing his forehand shot. The assists came courtesy of Max Gerlach winning the draw, and defenceman David Quenneville firing a laser pass over to Rassell.
But two minutes later, Fonstad scored a top-shelf, wrist shot goal, which wound up being the game winner.
Defencemen Zack Hayes and Max Martin also scored goals for the Raiders in the second period, increasing the score to 4-1 for their side.
Raiders’ winger Parker Kelly poured it on the third period, scoring two goals, one at 9:00 and the second at 12:27.
Along with his players who had multi-point nights, Habscheid said he thought captain Curtis Miske stood out for the Raiders.
“He’s new to being a captain and he’s still learning to be a captain. I thought tonight was his best game.
“He didn’t get the game winner, but he blocked a lot of shots and he did things that a captain needs to do … I thought he did a good job tonight,” he said.
The Raiders’ bench boss said he wants to see more success by committee from his team, where everyone is chipping in.
“I’ve played on enough teams and I’ve coached enough teams that collectively have success because everyone’s pulling in the same direction,” he said.
“We’re not loaded with ten 50-goal scorers here, so we’ve gotta play the right way and we’ve gotta play hard and we’ve gotta play together to have success as a group.”
The Raiders (3-3-0-0) will next play at home against the Regina Pats (3-3-1-0) on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre.