Raiders back to .500 after Saskatoon loss

Saskatoon Blades centreman Josh Paterson (61) cycles the puck behind the net while Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Zack Hayes checks him during their Dec. 10, 2017 WHL game from Saskatoon. Steve Hiscock/Saskatoon Blades

The Prince Albert Raiders are back to 0.500 after a 3-2 Sunday afternoon loss to the Saskatoon Blades in Western Hockey League action.

The teams faced off after each had previously played the Kamloops Blazers; the Raiders beat the British Columbia team in a shootout Friday night, while the Blades were coming off  a 4-1 loss to the Blazers on Saturday night.

Despite outshooting the Blades in each period and 36-24 overall, the Raiders couldn’t get much past rookie Saskatoon goaltender Nolan Maier, who finished the game with a 0.94 save percentage.

Maier’s performance wasn’t lost on Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid.

“We probably deserved to win. I thought we out-played them. But we came up against a really hot goaltender.”

The P.A. club’s bench boss also referenced a Dec. 3 Blades’ game on the road against the Portland Winterhawks; the 16-year-old Yorktoner earned a 48-save shutout win for his team in the U.S city.

Sunday’s win was Maier’s fourth of the season.

During what was the home team’s teddy bear toss game, the Blades opened the scoring – and a flood of stuffed animals – on Cameron Hebig’s 24th goal of the season in the first period.

The Raiders tied the score 1-1 in the second period, after Jordy Stallard sniped his wrist shot past Maier while on the powerplay at 3:48.

After Saskaton went up by a goal, Raiders captain Curtis Miske tied the score at 2-2 after banging home a rebound on the backhand with seven minutes left in the frame.

The Raiders and the Blades kept the score even at two goals for most of the third period, but with just over five minutes to go in the game, Alec Zawatsky scored the game-winning goal for his team.

His wrist shot from the Raiders’ slot beat goalie Ian Scott on his upper glove side.

“We were quicker. I liked a lot about our game. I liked all of our players’ efforts today,” Habscheid said of the game.

There wasn’t any fault he could find with the Raiders’ play, he said.

Prince Albert (12-12-5-2) remain in fifth place in the WHL’s East division, three points back of the Regina Pats. The team practices on Monday, before heading to Swift Current on Tuesday for their fourth game of the season against the Broncos (22-7-2-0).

The Raiders’ next home game is on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre against the Lethbridge Hurricanes (14-13-2-0).