Vojtech Budik and Kody McDonald were running on fumes, just enough to pace the Prince Albert Raiders to a 2-1 overtime win against the Red Deer Rebels in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Newly acquired in a trade with the Prince George Cougars late Friday night, McDonald started his day at 4:30 a.m. and soon left the northern British Columbia city; he ended it with a one-timer, game-winning goal at 1:08 of overtime in central Saskatchewan.
“Getting that first goal out of the way feels good,” the 19-year-old said with bags starting to form under his eyes.
“I’ve played in this barn before, and back then our game wasn’t very well that we played here (as a Cougar). But to have a good memory coming in to start (with the Raiders) feels good.”
The impromptu trade on Friday shocked him, he said.
“I didn’t get much sleep. I didn’t go to bed until late last night. I had to get up at 4:30 a.m., was on a flight at 6, had a couple of connections and I didn’t get here until 5:45 p.m.
“I just hopped into the warm-ups,” he said.
Much like his new teammate, defenceman Vojtech Budik was running on little sleep, three hours by his estimation; he returned to P.A. at 3 p.m. from Toronto after playing for team Czech Republic in the bronze medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. on Friday.
In addition to helping set up McDonald’s goal, Budik’s second period score at 0:48 was the Raiders’ lone regulation goal, which kept his team in the game.
After receiving a pass from centreman Jordy Stallard in the Rebels’ high slot, Budik sniped his wrist shot past the glove of Red Deer goalie Ethan Anders, popping up the netminder’s green water bottle in the process.
Budik also led the Raiders in shots with five.
“Actually, I was feeling good. I was expecting to feel bad, but I feel great after getting back to Prince Albert,” he said of any possible lingering fatigue from a long travel day out of Buffalo.
His national team came up short in their bronze medal game against the United States, losing 9-3 on Friday afternoon.
That gave him some motivation, he said. “I was sad after the game, but mad. So I was excited for the game here.”
By his account, Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said the Raiders’ play looked disjointed, compared to their win the previous night against Kootenay.
“We weren’t fluid,” he said, adding that the team’s new skaters (McDonald, Regan Nagy and newly acquired defenceman Jeremy Masella) were adjusting to playing with their new line-mates.
“It was just a difficult game. But give Red Deer credit. They’re making some trades, but their young guys played hard and they made it difficult on us, for sure.
“They work. Brent Sutter’s teams work, and they make it difficult on you. I just thought, especially in almost the last two periods, they probably worked harder than us … but we got the points. That’s what matters.”
The Raiders (15-17-6-2) are back in action on Sunday afternoon on the road in Regina against the Pats (20-19-3-0). Game time is 4 p.m.
The Pats played to a 4-2 loss in Swift Current against the Broncos on Saturday night.