Much like their previous meeting, the Prince Albert Raiders and the Swift Current Broncos skated to a gritty, hard-fought game that needed extra time to determine a winner.
This time the victor proved to be the Broncos, who won 5-4 on defenceman Artyom Minulin’s shot with 1:16 left in overtime of the Tuesday night Western Hockey League game.
It was the two teams’ third meeting so far this year (they’ll play each other another five times). The Broncos hold the series lead 2-1 thus far.
On the road in a loud Credit Union i-Plex with cowbells clambering away, the Raiders pushed the home team to its limit, forcing the Broncos into a comeback scenario, which they managed to meet.
“We competed hard. Our guys were down early and they battled back. We earned another point on the road. Give them credit,” P.A. head coach Marc Habscheid said.
The Raiders entered the game’s second period down 2-1, but they quickly erased the deficit and took the lead thanks to quick goals from Jordy Stallard and Curtis Miske at 1:29 and 2:37, respectively.
The Broncos didn’t hold the lead again until the game ended on Minulin’s game-winning goal in the extra frame.
“It was a good bounce-back period for us. We could have had an adverse reaction to being down, but we jumped out to an early lead,” Habscheid said.
Swift Current’s physical defenceman Sahvan Khaira tied the game 3-3 in the dying seconds of the second period, but again the Raiders forced the Broncos into a comeback scenario, this time at 10:35 in the third period.
Alternate captain Brayden Pachal sniped his first goal of the year to put the visiting team up 4-3.
Just over three minutes later, Swift Current’s captain, Glenn Gawdin, beat goalie Curtis Meger to force the tie at 4-4.
The 20-year-old Calgary Flames signee was a thorn in the Raiders’ side all night, often stirring up scrums after the whistle, especially around his team’s net.
Along with the goal, he had two assists, including the primary assist on Minulin’s overtime goal.
The two teams held each other to a draw for the rest of regulation play.
As for his assessment of the third period and the extra frame, Habscheid said he thought Prince Albert outplayed and out-chanced the home team.
He said that despite the loss, his team is gaining valuable lessons in resiliency. “It’s part of the learning process. We do what it takes to win.”
Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 5, the Raiders have played 15 games, 12 of which have been on the road and three were at home. The 12 road games were in Washington, B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s game, the Raiders’ bench boss said “the odyssey is completed,” referencing a more balanced schedule of home and away games.
The team now heads back to P.A. to host the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Sean Montgomery also scored for the Raiders, notching his ninth goal of the year in the first period.
Each team’s goalie faced plenty of shots throughout the game: The Raiders’ Curtis Meger stopped 44 of 49 shots, while the Broncos’ Joel Hofer stopped 35 of 39 shots.