Prince Albert might be used to cheering for Ethan Regnier, but Tuesday night, the P.A. product broke local hockey fans’ hearts.
With less than two minutes to go in the third period and Prince Albert leading Swift Current 2-1, Regnier picked up a loose puck, raced into the offensive zone and snapped the puck past Ian Scott’s shoulder to tie the game and electrify the Broncos’ fans.
Minutes later, Regnier had the chance to be a hero again. With both sides deadlocked in the shootout, the 2000-born forward tucked the puck through Scott’s legs to put his team up 1-0. Joel Hofer stopped Raiders’ rookie Ozzy Wiesblatt and Prince Albert’s record-breaking 19-game win streak came to an end.
Regnier was involved in the opening goal as well. At the seven-minute mark of the first, with Spencer Moe in the box for a tripping minor, Regnier found Andrew Fyten, who passed the puck to the front of the net. Tanner Nagel tapped the pass through the legs of Ian Scott to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead.
It was short-lived.
Three minutes later, Kaiden Guhle found Brett Leason. Leason passed the puck to Parker Kelly down low and cut to the net. Kelly put the puck back on Leason’s stick and the WHL’s leading scorer snapped the puck top corner to improve his season-long point streak to 28 games. He has 28 goals and 61 points in that span.
After pouring it on with 17 shots in the second but coming away empty, the Raiders finally solved Hofer again in the third. Spencer Moe fired a low shot from the wing on the rush and captain Brayden Pachal buried the rebound to go up 2-1. Cole Fonstad also earned an assist on the play.
As time ticked down, the Broncos came on strong. Scott made some key saves, but Regnier tied the game. Despite piling on 21 more shots in the third and four in overtime, Hofer kept his team in it. He then stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout to earn his third victory and, with a 52-save performance, the game’s first star.
Ian Scott made 21 saves for Prince Albert. The Raiders went 0-4 on the powerplay, while the Broncos were 1-5 with the extra skater.
“Their goalie played really well,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said after the game.
“But we certainly didn’t have our A-game.”
The loss is Prince Albert’s first since October 6 when they dropped a 4-3 contest in Red Deer.
“No one’s happy we lost,” Habscheid said.
“We play our game to win. We knew we weren’t going to win every game, but we didn’t think — with all due respect — we didn’t think we’d lose tonight.”
The game was the Raiders’ first since Aliaksei Protas and Sergei Sapego left to play in the 2019 World Junior Division 1 Championship for Belarus.
The Raiders shuffled lines around in the pair’s absence.
“It gives other guys opportunities to play and step up,” Habscheid said.
One such player was Braydon Clark. The third-round pick in the 2017 Bantam Draft made his WHL debut in Tuesday’s contest. He finished the game with two penalty minutes.
“He played OK,” the Raiders head coach said.
“He’s a young guy, still trying to get used to the speed. He was fine.”
With the victory, Swift Current improves to 5-21-1-1, while the Raiders fall to 26-1-0-1.
Next up for Prince Albert is the road leg of a home-and-home with the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday. Following their half of the series on Saturday, they’ll head down to Saskatoon for a 4 p.m. meeting with the Blades.
Friday’s game starts at 7:30, while the puck drops at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert at 7 p.m. Saturday
Already without the pair of Belrussians, the Raiders will then lose their starting goalie and top goal-scorer, as Leason and Scott will head to Team Canada’s World Juniors selection camp after this weekend.
Clark, a 16-year-old blueliner from Langley, B.C., is in his second season with the Valley West Giants of the BCMML, where he has four points in 16 games.
He joins Kaiden Guhle, Cohner Saleski, Ozzy Wiesblatt and Jakob Brook as members of the 2017 Raiders draft class to suit up for the team this year.
With his first period goal, Leason matched a 28-game streak that Aleksi Heponiemi had for the Broncos last year.
That’s the longest in the WHL since the 1996-97 season, which is far back as stats go on the league website.
In addition to Sapego and Protas, Lane Kirk was the only other scratch for the Raiders Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Broncos did not dress forward Eric Houk and blueliner Roope Pynnonen.
Earlier in the day, the defending WHL champions dealt defenceman Noah King, the rights to goaltender Matthew Davis and a conditional draft pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft to the Spokane Chiefs for forward Carter Chorney, along with the rights to prospects Kye Buchanan and Devin Aubin.
King, a 19-year-old from Winnipeg, had 11 points in 95 games with the Broncos over the last three seaons.
Davis, who is 16 years of age and is from Calgary, is in his rookie season in the AJHL with the Spruce Grove Saints and has a 13-3-1 record with a 1.70 goals against average and a .925 save percentage
The 17-year-old Chorney, who calls Sherwood Park, Alta. home, has 12 goals in 27 games this year and was a second round pick by the Chiefs in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
Buchanan, a 17-year-old forward from Lethbridge, has seven points in 12 games this season with St. Albert Midget Raiders.
Aubin, who is from Falher, Alta. and was a fourth round pick by the Chiefs in the 2018 WHL Draft, has three points in 20 games in his first year of midget with the Grande Prairie Storm.
- Brandon 4 Medicine Hat 1 (Jiri Patera – 40 Saves)
Around the CHL
The biggest news in major junior hockey on Tuesday came from the Ontario Hockey League as the Windsor Spitfires dealt starting netminder Michael DiPietro to the league-leading Ottawa 67’s.
DiPietro, a 19-year-old prospect of the Vancouver Canucks, has an 11-8-0-1 mark this season with a league best 2.32 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.
He won the Memorial Cup in 2017 for the Spitfires and is tied for the most shutouts in OHL history with 16.
The presumptive starter for Canada at the World Juniors later this month is joining a 67’s side has a 22-3-3-1 and hasn’t lost in regulation in 23 straight games.
In order to land DiPietro, the 67’s parted ways with four second round picks and the rights to Russian forward Egor Afanasyev.
The 17-year-old, who is eligible for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, has 26 points in 19 games this season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks and has committed to the NCAA’s Michigan State Spartans for next season.
Windsor also received another second round pick and two thirds in the trade, but those will be returned to Ottawa if Afanasyev never plays in the OHL.
- Medicine Hat vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Regina vs. Edmonton – 8 p.m.
- Lethbridge vs. Kootenay – 8 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Kamloops – 9 p.m.
- Tri-City vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Everett – 9 p.m.
With files from Lucas Punkari