The Prince Albert Raiders wasted no time bouncing back from Wednesday’s defeat at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Raiders erupted for three first period goals, including two from Vojtech Budik, on route to a 5-1 win over the Red Deer Rebels at the Enmax Centrium on Friday.
Afterwards, head coach Marc Habscheid said the club’s quick start and ability to stay focused were the keys to victory.
“We got them on their heels and that’s important,” the Raiders bench boss said. “Every game’s important from here on in and I thought we started good and continued strong. The intensity level wasn’t as high as (it was against) Regina or Moose Jaw or Swift Current, but we played well enough to win.”
The Rebels had lost 11 straight games coming into Friday night’s contest, and the Raiders wasted little time adding to their misery.
Budik opened the scoring a mere 1:50 into the game when he hammered a one-timer past rookie Red Deer netminder Ethan Anders. The Czech defenceman added his second of the night roughly 10 minutes later when he cashed in on the power play with a quick wrist shot from the top of the circle.
That made it three goals in the last two games for Budik, who, according to his coach, really benefited from his time at the World Juniors.
“It’s obviously a higher level of competition, so he comes back with more confidence because the pace isn’t quite as fast (in the WHL),” Habscheid explained. “He’s got the confidence (from) playing at that level. Confidence is a big thing, plus he’s a good player.”
Budik’s offensive outburst caused Rebels head coach Brent Sutter to pull Anders in favour of veteran Riley Lamb, but it did little to stop the offensive onslaught.
Jeremy Masella made it 3-0 before the end of the first when his shot deflected off a Red Deer player and past Lamb. The Raiders outshot their opponents 11-6 in the opening frame and controlled the pace for much of the period.
Jordy Stallard made it 4-0 for the Raiders in a penalty filled second period before the home side was able to break the ice. Alexander Alexeyev wrecked Ian Scott’s shutout bid with less than a minute to go the period, making it 4-1 Prince Albert.
Any hope of a Rebel comeback was dashed midway through the third, when Parker Kelly scored a backbreaking shorthanded goal on a great individual effort. Ian Scott slammed the door the rest of the way, making 29 saves in total for his 11th win of the year.
The win puts the Raiders just five points back of the idle Saskatoon Blades for the final conference wildcard spot.
The Raiders continue their Alberta road swing on Saturday when they travel south for a date with the Central Division leading Medicine Hat Tigers. Puck drop is 8:30 CST.
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