Despite being outshot heavily, the Moose Jaw Warriors seemed set to hand the Prince Albert Raiders their first loss of the season Saturday at Mosaic Place.
Instead, the Raiders left their East Division rivals wondering what happened.
Down 4-1 with seven minutes to go, the Raiders scored three goals in the late stages of regulation to tie the game and then completed the comeback in overtime with a Parker Kelly goal to pick up a 5-4 triumph and improve to 4-0 on the year.
“It was one of those games where we didn’t play all that good and it seemed like every bounce was going their way,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “Our guys could have said tonight’s not our night or they could have found a way to try and win, which is what they did.
“It was another good test for us and they were able to work through some adversity when things weren’t going their way.”
In addition to scoring the game-winner, Kelly also found the back of the net with 89 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
Imports Sergei Sapego and Aliaksei Protas each had a goal and an assist in the triumph, which saw Protas score his first ever WHL goal.
“That goal really kickstarted everything for us,” Habscheid said. “The guys got a little jump in their step and then (Justin) Nachbaur’s goal put us one shot away, which is huge in junior.
“I think people sometimes forget that the import rookies are not just adjusting to a different style of game, but they are also adjusting to a new way of life. We’d like to see Aliaksei use his speed a little more out there as he’s an exceptional skater, but he’s done of great job so far and that was big goal for our team.”
Nachbaur had the other goal for the Raiders in the win, while Donovan Buskey made 11 saves in his debut for the team.
Rookie forward Brayden Tracey led the way for the Warriors with his first two WHL goals and also had an assist on Justin Almedia’s marker.
Yegor Buyalski joined in on the Belarussian goal party as the rookie import forward scored his first goal for the Warriors in the third period.
Adam Evanoff was busy all game long and turned aside 34 shots for the hosts, who saw their record fall to 0-2-0-1.
“Moose Jaw tried to slow us down tonight and they really did a good job of that for most of the game,” Habscheid said.
The Raiders will wrap up their three-in-three weekend tomorrow night at 6 p.m. when they’ll host the 3-0 Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre.
With Saturday’s loss to the Raiders, the Warriors have dropped their opening three games of the season for the first time since 2014-15, when they posted a 32-35-4-1 mark and missed the playoffs by six points.
Defenders Lane Kirk and Kaiden Guhle were not in the Raiders lineup along with forward Nikita Krivokrasov.
The Warriors did not dress goaltender Brodan Salmond, blueliners Jett Woo, Brenden Kwiatkowski, Drae Gardiner and Brandon Schuldhuas, in addition to forwards Cameron Sterling and Jesse Mistelbacher.
- Brandon 8 Lethbridge 4 (Luke Burzan – Five Goals and One Assist)
- Saskatoon 4 Medicine Hat 3 (Riley McKay Shootout Winner – James Hamblin – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Edmonton 6 Calgary 3 (Carter Souch – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Red Deer 5 Swift Current 2 (Dawson Barteaux – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Portland 4 Seattle 2 (Jared Freadrich – One Goal and Three Assists)
- Kelowna 5 Prince George 2 (Leif Mattson – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Spokane 6 Kootenay 3 (Riley Woods – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Everett 3 Tri-City 2 (Riley Sutter – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Victoria 6 Kamloops 3 (Igor Martynov – Three Assists)
Prior to putting up three points in his team’s win over the Tri-City Americans, Everett Silvertips forward Riley Sutter signed an entry level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.
A third round pick by the reigning Stanley Cup champions in June, Sutter has five points in four games this season after putting up 53 points in the team’s run to the WHL final last year.
Meanwhile, the Kelowna Rockets acquired overage forward and Detroit Red Wings prospect Lane Zablocki from the Victoria Royals for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft and a conditional fourth round pick in 2021.
Zablocki, who was a third round pick by the Red Wings in 2017 and has yet to sign a contract with the team, has put up 122 points in 201 WHL games over the last three seasons.
Originally a fifth round pick by the Prince George Cougars in 2013, the Wetaskiwin, Alta. product has played for the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Royals during his major junior career.
After Saturday’s 10-round shootout affair against the Medicine Hat Tigers, the Blades have a 3-0 record for the first time since the 2011-12 season, when they posted a 40-29-1-2 mark but were swept in the first round by the Tigers.
Saskatoon won six of the eight meetings against their closest rival last season, but dropped two contests to the Raiders in Prince Albert.
Forward Kyle Crnkovic, the 10th overall pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury and is not expected to take to the ice Sunday.
- Moose Jaw vs. Regina – 4 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Calgary – 4 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Vancouver – 5 p.m.