Scott sublime as Raiders shutout Tigers

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Ian Scott keeps an eye on the puck while Linus Nassen and Brayden Pachal battle near his net during the Prince Albert Raiders 2-0 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers earlier this month.

There was only one thing that didn’t quite go Ian Scott’s way Wednesday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Prince Albert Raiders netminder attempted to become the first goalie to score in the Western Hockey League in over two years during his 2-0 shutout of the Medicine Hat Tigers, only to see his shot bounce off of the scoreboard with just over a minute to go in final frame.

“I think it was going on net,” Scott smiled. “I just decided to try it then and there. The main thing was to get the puck out of the zone and anything else that goes with it was secondary.”

“He was trying to be like Martin Brodeur there at the end,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid added. “He actually tried that during our last game (a 6-2 win Friday over Swift Current) and we talked in the coaches room afterwards about how he might have a tough time with that shot with the clock getting in the way. He told me was trying to go bar down, but I thought he had a pretty good shot at it.”

That was the only blemish on the night for the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, as he made 43 saves for his league best third shutout of the season as the Raiders improved to 18-1 and won their 11th straight game.

“Goaltending is a lot like pitching in baseball,” Habscheid said. “If you don’t have it, you are in trouble. If you do have it, you are doing pretty good.

“I thought Ian played really well tonight. He’s a guy that can make the highlight reel saves but he didn’t have to as he was in a good position to stop the puck all night long.”

Having only played three games in the last three weeks, the Tigers provided the Raiders with one of their toughest tests in recent memory during Wednesday’s matchup.

“They pushed us right from the start,” Habscheid said. “They didn’t sit back and wait for us as they made it a physical game early, which is what we needed.

“You can practice all you want but you can’t simulate what it’s like in a game when the hatred starts to build. Even though we haven’t played a lot lately, the guys were able to work through it and find a way to win.”

Brett Leason broke open a scoreless affair near the halfway point of the second period as he extended his point streak to 19 straight games with a shorthanded snipe.

The Raiders penalty kill has been something to behold during the first two months of the season, as the team has scored 11 shorthanded goals and have only allowed their opponents to score seven times on the man advantage.

“I have no idea what’s going on,” Habscheid said. “I’ve never seen a run like that this deep into a season, so that’s something our team can be proud of.

“That was big goal by Brett as well as it allowed our guys to get their legs underneath them. If Medicine Hat had scored on the power play, we could be talking about a completely different outcome.”

After being stymied by Tigers goaltender Mads Sogaard for most of the night, Noah Gregor was finally able to solve the Danish import in the final frame on a shot from a bad angle.

“I had a couple of chances earlier where I was trying to do a little bit too much,” Gregor said. “I was just looking for a way to put the puck in the net and sometimes you end up getting a little bit lucky.”

Sogaard made 31 saves for the Tigers, who have lost their last four games and sit in third place in the Central Division with a 9-10-1-2 record.

The Raiders, who are now 11-0 at the Art Hauser Centre, will look to keep their winning ways going Friday when the Tri-City Americans come to town for a 7 p.m. affair.

That will be the last contest in a five-game homestand for the Raiders, who will pay a visit to the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday.

“It’s always hard when you aren’t playing to get used to game pace once again, especially when you have this stretch where we’ve been off as much as we have been lately,” Gregor said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that in my career.

“A game like the one we had against Medicine Hat tonight really helps us out as we had to work for everything we got. These games with Tri-City and Brandon on the weekend should really allow us to find our rhythm again.”

Post-Game Notes

The Raiders now have a 3-0 record over the Tigers and can sweep the season series in Medicine Hat next Friday night.

Wednesday’s game marked the second time this year the Raiders have been outshot by an opponent.

The Red Deer Rebels held a 29-27 shot advantage on Oct. 13 at the Art Hauser Centre, but came out on the wrong end of a 2-1 score line.

If Scott’s shot hadn’t bounced off the scoreboard and ended up in the net, he would have been the eight netminder to score a goal in the WHL and the first since Stuart Skinner accomplished that feat for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in March 2016 against the Tigers.

Leason’s 19-game point streak is the longest to start a season since Mark Stone went on an 18-game run for the Brandon Wheat Kings during the 2011-12 campaign.

The best run a player has gone on to begin a year in the league’s Internet era came in 1999-00 when Jeremy Reich of the Swift Current Broncos recorded a point in 23 straight games.

Evander Kane had a 22-game point streak to start off the 2008-09 campaign for the Vancouver Giants, while Mike Comrie put up 60 points during a 21-game run for the Kootenay Ice to open up the 2000-01 season.

Defenceman Lane Kirk and forward Jakob Brook did not dress for the Raiders Wednesday, while blueliner Joel Craven and forward Elijah Brown sat for the Tigers.

Wednesday’s Scores

  • Tri-City 3 Swift Current 0 (Beck Warm – 24 Saves – Second Career Shutout)
  • Prince George 4 Kelowna 3 (Josh Maser Overtime Winner – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Everett 3 Portland 2 (Riley Sutter Shootout Winner – Dustin Wolf – 39 Saves)

Pre-Game Notes 

The Raiders, who last defeated the Americans on Oct. 14, 2015, have lost four straight matchups to their U.S. Division foes at the Art Hauser Centre since picking up a 5-2 triumph on Oct. 5, 2010.

The Americans won last year’s meeting in Kennewick, Wash. by a score of 4-1 and have picked up victories in their last two matchups with the Raiders.

Following Wednesday’s 3-0 shutout performance over Swift Current, Tri-City has a 12-6 record to sit in third place in the U.S. Division and have posted a 2-2 mark so far on their trip through the East Division.

Americans star forward Michael Rasmussen remains in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings as the 19-year-old has three goals and two assists in 16 games.

Forward Paycen Bjorklund is currently out of the lineup with an injury, along with blueliners Riley Bruce and Anthony Bishop.

Prince Albert product Riley Sawchuk will be making the second visit of his WHL career to the Art Hauser Centre Friday as a member of the Americans.

The 19-year-old forward has eight goals and five assists in 18 games this season.

Friday’s Schedule

  • Medicine Hat vs. Brandon – 7:30 p.m.
  • Kelowna vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Kootenay – 8 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Portland – 9 p.m.
  • Seattle vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
  • Regina vs. Vancouver – 9:30 p.m.
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