It looked like it was going to be a long night for the Prince Albert Raiders, but a four goal second period outburst was enough to ensure a perfect end to their three-game road swing.
The Raiders battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oil Kings 5-4 in front of 9,723 fans at Rogers Place on Saturday. The win gave Prince Albert three straight wins on their trip through Alberta, and helped them claw their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“We needed it,” Raiders coach Marc Habscheid said after Saturday’s game. “It’s all about points right now. We needed the points and we swept the trip, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
Although the road-trip ended on a happy note, the outlook didn’t look good at the start of Saturday’s game.
The Oil Kings jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before the match was six minutes old, thanks to tallies from Trey Fix-Wolansky and Conner McDonald. However, the Raiders found their legs in a wild second period that saw Prince Albert score their first three goals in a span of one minute and 27 seconds.
“We didn’t have urgency in the first and we paid for it,” Habscheid said. “Then the guys got urgent in the second and it made all the difference in the world.”
Vojtech Budik got the Raiders on the board roughly five minutes into the second period when he hammered a one-timer past Oil Kings goalie Josh Dechaine. Raider captain Curtis Miske tied things up a mere 34 seconds later, when he lifted a backhander over a sprawling Dechaine following some questionable Edmonton defending.
Brett Leason added to home team’s misery just 47 seconds afterwards, when he fired a quick wrist shot into the top left-hand corner to give the Raiders their first lead of the night.
Leason’s goal was his first of two on the evening, and extended his goal-scoring streak to six games.
Habscheid said the Calgary, Alta. product has started to gain some confidence, and that’s leading to more productivity on the scoresheet.
“I think he realizes that he can be a good player,” Habscheid explained. “He’s a quiet kid who just wants to fit in, and that’s okay, but he’s got a boatload of talent, and we don’t want him to fit in on the ice. We want him to dominate because he’s got a lot of God-given ability and he’s showing it now.”
Prince Albert’s first lead of the night didn’t last very long. Wyatt McLeod continued the offensive outburst when he scored during a delayed penalty just 28 seconds after Leason’s tally.
The Raiders jumped back in front with Leason’s second of the night at 12:04, but the Oil Kings responded with a power play goal from David Kope to send both teams into the second intermission knotted at four.
Parker Kelly scored the lone goal of the third period just two seconds after an Oil Kings penalty expired, giving the Raiders the win and ending a five game goal-scoring drought in the process. Kelly’s goal was his team leading seventh game-winner of the season.
Ian Scott stopped 25 of 29 shots for the Raiders to earn his 19th win of the season.
The victory means the Raiders move within two points of the idle Saskatoon Blades for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. The Blades have a chance to extend that gap when they take on the Moose Jaw Warriors in a Sunday afternoon matinee at the SaskTel Centre.
The Raiders are off until Tuesday when they host the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop is 7 p.m.
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