Saskies send Raiders past Ice

Prince Albert Raiders forward Brett Leason celebrates his second-period, short-handed goal as he high-fives his teammates while playing against the Kootenay Ice in WHL action from Prince Albert on Jan. 5, 2017. -- Evan Radford/Daily Herald

A pair of Saskatchewan-born skaters along with a third who has roots in the Regina football scene sent the Prince Albert Raiders to a 7-3 win over the Kootenay Ice Friday night.

South-Saskatchewan natives Brayden Pachal and Regan Nagy finished the Western Hockey League game with two goals apiece to power their team to the win. Meanwhile, right winger Brett Leason scored a crucial short-handed goal in the second period to keep momentum on the Raiders’ side, establishing a multi-goal lead for the P.A. club.

Leason’s father, Darryl, quarterbacked the University of Regina Rams football team through several seasons, starting in 1999 and including a 2000 Vanier Cup appearance.

Friday’s game was a reunion of sorts for Pachal and Nagy after the Raiders traded for the 20-year-old Nagy on Tuesday in a deal with the Victoria Royals; the pair played together on the Royals for a season and a half before the Raiders picked up Pachal in a trade with Victoria on Jan. 9, 2017.

They grew up relatively close to each other, too: Pachal was born in Estevan, Sask., while Nagy was born about 200 kilometres west in Ogema, which sits a little more than an hour’s drive south of Regina.

“I shook the cobwebs off. And I think the boys just battled hard tonight, and I could build off of that,” Nagy said of the game.

Friday was his first game back since returning from an upper body injury that had sidelined him since early December. “It’s nice to get a win like that in the first game.”

The Raiders ended the first period with a 2-1 lead, thanks to quick goals from centreman Jordy Stallard and Pachal; each scored his goal in the first 10 minutes of play.

Prince Albert Raiders forward Spencer Moe (11) wins a faceoff and moves the puck back to defenceman Max Martin (10) as they play against the Kootenay Ice in WHL action from Prince Albert on Jan. 5, 2017. — Evan Radford/Daily Herald

The Ice looked to be making a comeback effort while on the powerplay at 7:30 in the second period, but Leason got the puck luck he needed.

A nifty bounce on the penalty kill sent the black rubber through the neutral zone; the 18-year-old powered his way through two Ice defenders to create a breakaway; through a flurry of snow he slipped his backhand shot under the legs of Kootenay goalie Duncan McGovern.

Unlike their last game, the Raiders knew they wanted to keep scoring.

“In the second period when we were up 3-1, we know what happened last time (in Regina against the Pats); they ended up winning in overtime,” Pachal said. “We talked about it in the room, and we knew we had to close this one out, because these two points are huge.”

They did that in the third period.

Parker Kelly, Pachal again and Nagy with a pair of scores all added to the goal tally; Kelly’s score wound up being the game winner.

The Ice added two goals in the frame, but it wasn’t enough to erase the large deficit the Raiders created.

Prince Albert Raiders forward Sean Montgomery (25) carries the puck through the neutral zone against the Kootenay Ice in WHL action from Prince Albert on Jan. 5, 2017. — Evan Radford/Daily Herald

Along with Nagy, newly acquired defenceman Jeremy Masella played his first game with the Raiders. The team acquired him via trade with the Royals on Thursday afternoon. In exchange, Victoria picked up fourth-line forward D-Jay Jerome from the Raiders.

Asked about his new teammates, Pachal said, “Nagy’s coming off an injury right now, and Masella too in Victoria, he didn’t really get much opportunity. So it’s gonna take a while for them to get into our systems and get used to the group.

“But obviously they contributed huge tonight, and we’re looking forward to them being with us,” he said.

The Raiders (14-17-6-2) are back in action Saturday night at home against the Red Deer Rebels (10-21-6-2) at the Art Hauser Centre. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Rebels played to a 3-2 loss in Saskatoon against the Blades on Friday night.