The Prince Albert Raiders almost completed the comeback.
Down 3-1 to the Kootenay Ice in the second period of their Western Hockey League game, the team begun to turn it around late in the frame.
Head coach Marc Habscheid pulled goalie Ian Scott in favour Curtis Meger at 16:41; Spencer Moe cut the deficit to one goal after his score two minutes later; and top-line forward Parker Kelly tied the game 3-3 on a short-handed, third period goal.
The Raiders were going to overtime, on the road, guaranteeing them at least one point.
But the point was all that they got.
After 38 seconds of extra period play, 20-year-old centreman Alec Baer scored the game-winning goal.
Baer dangled around Kelly in the Raiders’ faceoff circle, then he forced Meger down by feigning a backhand shot in tight; the Minnesota native switched to his forehand and slid the puck around Meger’s right side for the goal.
It was a 4-3 win for Kootenay.
“We weren’t very good in the first half of the game. But we climbed out of a hole and salvaged a point on the road. That’s a good thing,” Habscheid said of the game.
The teams skated to a scoreless first period, with the shot count at 9-8 for Kootenay.
The Ice opened the scoring early in the second period on a Cameron Hausinger goal at 1:34; Jonathan Smart then notched a powerplay goal a little overt 10 minutes later.
After the Ice’s third goal at 16:41 from Vince Loschiavo, Habscheid gave Scott the hook.
“I wasn’t happy with (Kootenay’s) goals. I thought (the switch) changed the complexion of our team,” he said.
The goalie change seemed to spark his team.
“I didn’t like the goals, but it was everybody’s play … maybe it was a bit of a wake-up call for our guys.”
With the overtime loss, the Raiders moved up one point in their East division standings; they now have 25 points and sit in fifth place in the division, two points up on Saskatoon and three points back of Regina.
Their game in Cranbrook, British Columbia was the first of a three-game road trip through B.C. and Alberta.
The team (10-10-4-1) was off on Thursday.
They next play in Calgary against the Hitmen (7-14-3-1) on Friday night, and then in Edmonton on Saturday against the Oil Kings (5-18-2-0).
At 25 games played, the Raiders are now more than one-quarter of the way through their 72-game, 2017-18 season.
If the WHL playoffs were to start today, they would qualify as the Eastern conference’s second wildcard team; the Regina Pats would be the conference’s other wildcard team.
The team’s next home game is Wednesday, Dec. 6 against the Medicine Hat Tigers.