The third time was the charm for the Prince Albert Raiders.
After going up 3-1 in their Saturday night game against the Saskatoon Blades, the Raiders watched their lead evaporate into a tie with less than two minutes in the game. The clock ticked down, ended regulation and sent it to overtime, the third time in three games for the Raiders.
They made this one count: Parker Kelly and Brayden Pachal put the game away on a two-on-one that saw Pachal find the perfect timing for his pass over to Kelly who tapped the puck into the Blades’ net, top shelf.
The home side won 4-3; the Art Hauser Centre erupted into cheers.
“It was a fun game, good atmosphere,” Kelly said after the win; his teammates had just awarded him the player of the game.
The process to get the win was anything but smooth for Kelly.
“It was mixed emotions. I was pretty fired up there on the bench after they tied it, just cause of our past history with that,” he said.
Prince Albert dropped its last three of four games in overtime to Vancouver, Brandon and Regina, going back to Oct. 13.
“I think it was just a huge relief off of everyone’s shoulders that we were able to get the two points,” Kelly said.
His overtime goal was his second score of the night. He netted his first on a breakaway after chipping the puck along the boards and past a Blades defender. He slid the puck through the five-hole of Saskatoon goalie Ryan Kubic. It was a short-handed score.
“I was really proud of the boys, how we stuck with it. And Marc (Habscheid) gave us a talk about adversity before the game and it was the right time to do that, cause of what happened there tonight,” Kelly said of his team’s resiliency.
Saturday’s game marked the return of Raiders’ goalie Ian Scott, who had been out with an injury since the team opened the regular season against Moose Jaw on Sept. 22.
The 18-year-old netminder stopped 30 of 33 shots for the win.
“It felt pretty good to get that win. We’ve definitely been searching for it, and I think it was probably the best team effort we’ve had in a while,” Scott said.
His efforts were aided by a stable Raiders’ defensive unit that blocked several Blades’ shots and steered pucks away from Scott’s crease. An effective penalty killed that went five-for-six helped reduce Saskatoon’s chances, too.
“That was huge today. I can’t tell how many shots they blocked – it was huge. To get in front of those, that takes a lot courage,” he said.
The Raiders took and held the lead for most of the game.
Jordy Stallard scored first at 4:45 of the first period, assisted by Zack Hayes and Cole Fonstad.
Then team captain Curtis Miske scored a powerplay goal on his wrist shot from Kubic’s left face-off circle at 13:22 of the second period, assisted by Max Martin and Stallard.
The Blades cut their deficit to one after Josh Paterson redirected a Brandon Machado pass through his legs and past Scott a little more than a minute later, making it 2-1.
Kelly re-established the Raiders’ two-goal lead with his shorthanded marker at 7:35 of the third period.
That was enough to keep his team ahead until the last three minutes of the game. Saskatoon’s Caleb Fantillo scored a powerplay goal after his coaches pulled Kubic to create a six-on-four advantage at 17:50.
Forty-nine seconds later, Chase Wouters tied the game 3-3 after banking the puck off of a Raiders’ stick and then off of Max Martin’s skate.
The Raiders would play for an overtime win again.
After near-goals from Stallard on a breakaway and a slapshot from Martin that dinged the crossbar, Pachal and Kelly put the game to bed at 3:05 of overtime.
Habscheid commended his team for sticking with it throughout the game.
“I wouldn’t have been happy with the loss, but I would have been really happy with our group because we faced a ton of adversity. There was one official that did us absolutely no favours tonight. And we just worked through it,” he said.
“Guys stepped up, guys blocked shots. The process was there. It would have been an injustice had we not won this game,” he said.
The Raiders are now 4-4-3-0 with 11 points, sitting in fifth place in the East division behind Regina, which has 15 points.
The Raiders’ next game is at home on Oct. 25 against the 9-3-1-0 Victoria Royals, who are tied for second in the WHL.