The Prince Albert Raiders achieved something they haven’t done since the 1998-99 season Friday night.
With a 7-3 road win over the Medicine Hat Tigers, the Raiders picked up their first season sweep over the Central Division side in 20 years.
They also improved their record to 22-1 and won their 15th straight game, tying the franchise record set in the 1985-86 campaign.
However, it wasn’t quite as easy as the final score indicated.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead early in the second period, the Raiders watched on as the Tigers slowly clawed back to within a goal by the midway point of the final frame.
However, the top ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League would soon pull away for good as Brayden Pachal, Parker Kelly and Aliaksei Protas all found the back of the net during an 86-second span.
“I thought we were good for about half the game tonight,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “Then we had a 20-minute span where we were cheating a bit and being sloppy out there, which we almost paid for as they (Medicine Hat) made it close.
“We ended up getting a bit of a gift there on Pachal’s goal (as his shot from the point trickled past Tigers netminder Jordan Hollett) and that got us back on our way.”
The Raiders, who started a season-long seven game road trip Friday, got goals from Ozzy Wiesblatt and Brett Leason to take a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Parker Kelly and Leason then teamed up to find the back of the net twice in a 49-second span early in the second frame to build up a four-goal cushion.
After Josh Williams got the Raiders on the board midway through the contest, Brian Lockner and Ryan Jevne both solved Ian Scott in the third period to draw the Tigers within one.
“We took our foot off the gas after going up 4-0 and some bad habits started to creep in,” Habscheid said.
“With that said, even though we strive to be perfect every time out, it’s not going to happen. We continue to look forward and keep playing the right way. We don’t winning to get boring, as losing is no fun at all.”
Pachal made sure that a Tigers comeback wouldn’t take place as his long-range shot fooled Hollett with 9:05 to go and set the stage for a three-goal flurry by the Raiders.
“Brayden was a force tonight and he got himself a Gordie Howe hat trick,” Habscheid said of the Raiders captain, who picked up an assist on Kelly’s third period marker and dropped the gloves with Ryan Chyzowski in the opening frame.
“He understands what being the captain is all about, and it includes being involved in a lot of different things over the course of the night.”
Leason, who extended his point streak to 23 straight games Friday, led the way up front with two goals and two assists as he moved into a tie with Edmonton’s Trey Fix-Wolansky for the Western Hockey League’s scoring lead with 51 points.
Kelly potted a pair of goals in the triumph, while Protas and Pachal both had two-point nights.
Ian Scott made 26 saves to earn his 19th win of the campaign, and also picked up an assist on Leason’s second period shorthanded goal.
Tyler Preziuso, who was stymied by Scott on multiple occasions during the game, had two assists to pace the offence for the 10-12-1-2 Tigers.
Hollett turned aside 24 shots before he was pulled with 7:39 left in regulation.
Mads Sogaard stopped both shots he faced in a relief role.
The Raiders will look to set a franchise record for consecutive wins Saturday in Cranbrook, B.C. against the Kootenay Ice.
Thanks to his first period goal, Leason has now tied the longest point streak to start a WHL season since 1996-97, which is as far back as stats go on the league website.
Jeremy Reich of the Swift Current Broncos put up 33 points during a 23-game run to kick off the 1999-00 campaign.
Leason now has 24 goals this year, which is three ahead of Brandon’s Stelio Mattheos and Calgary’s Mark Kastelic for the league lead.
With his two-point night, Protas moved back into first place in the WHL rookie scoring race with 21 points, which is one ahead of Moose Jaw’s Brayden Tracey.
Defenceman Lane Kirk and forward Eric Pearce did not dress for the Raiders Friday, while the Tigers scratched blueliner Joel Craven and forward Elijah Brown.
- Lethbridge 8 Brandon 4 (Dylan Cozens – Three Goals and Three Assists – Second Hat Trick This Season and Third Career – Calen Addison – Five Assists)
- Moose Jaw 4 Edmonton 3 (Tristin Langan Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Red Deer 3 Kootenay 2 (Brandon Hagel – One Goal and One Assist)
- Kelowna 3 Victoria 1 (Liam Kindree – One Goal and One Assist)
- Prince George 5 Regina 3 (Nick Henry – Three Goals – Second Hat Trick This Season and Third Career)
- Calgary 5 Seattle 2 (Luke Coleman – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Kamloops 5 Tri-City 1 (Orrin Centazzo – Two Goals)
Saturday’s meeting in Cranbrook is the second of the season between the two sides, as the Raiders picked up a 7-2 home win on Nov. 2.
After a 3-2 defeat at home to the Red Deer Rebels Friday, the 7-15-3-1 Ice are mired in a four-game losing streak as they sit in sixth place in the Central Division and are five points back of the Medicine Hat Tigers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Forward Peyton Krebs, who is the leading scorer for the Ice with 27 points, is currently day-to-day with an upper body injury he sustained last Friday night against the Calgary Hitmen.
Finnish blueliner Valtteri Kakkonen is also listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
- Lethbridge vs. Moose Jaw – 2:30 p.m. (Broadcast Nationally on Sportsnet)
- Edmonton vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Kootenay – 8 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
- Seattle vs. Portland – 8 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Vancouver – 9 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
- Calgary vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Everett – 9 p.m.