Raiders open 2019 on a winning note

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Jeremy Masella works his way around Brady Pouteau of the Regina Pats during a game at the Art Hauser Centre Sunday.

The Prince Albert Raiders’ first game of 2019 looked awfully similar to their last contest of 2018.

They once again outshot the Regina Pats by a considerable margin, but found themselves down 3-2 past the halfway point of the third period.

In the end though, the Raiders would score three goals in the final frame to pick up a 5-3 win at the Brandt Centre and gain a measure of revenge from their 2-1 loss to the Pats at the Art Hauser Centre Sunday.

“It was more of the same from our last game against them, except for a 10 minute stretch where it was a little more lopsided,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.

“Their goalie (Max Paddock) was really good once again, and although there was a couple of goals that we wanted back, Brett (Balas) was able to make some stops for us when we needed him to.”

In addition to outshooting the Pats by a 56-23 margin, the Raiders were also able to cash in twice on the power play in the third period.

Cole Fonstad scored nine seconds into the man advantage early in the frame, while Sergei Sapego moved the visitors out in front for good as he wired a shot by Paddock with 4:21 to go.

“After we went 0-for-7 in our last game, the guys really wanted to come through on the power play, and we certainly needed them to do that today,” Habscheid said.

“I also thought the line of (Carson) Miller, (Eric) Pearce and (Jakob) Brook played really well. They were in their end on every shift and they ended up drawing a penalty that led to the winning goal.”

Balas, who picked up his first WHL win in a relief effort on Dec. 15 against the Swift Current Broncos, made his first career start Tuesday and turned aside 20 shots.

Two of his best saves came on Pats breakaways as he stopped Duncan Pierce’s shorthanded rush late in the second period and stymied a Jadon Joseph chance early in the third.

“I know that he would probably like to have the second and third goals back, but we don’t expect him to be Ian Scott,” Habscheid said.

“There were some ups and downs, but it was his first career start in front of a big crowd, and that’s a good experience for him as we move forward.”

Parker Kelly had two goals and an assist to lead the way for the 34-3-0-1 Raiders.

Noah Gregor dished out three helpers to extend his point streak to seven straight games, while fellow overager Sean Montgomery had a goal and two assists.

Riley Krane had a goal and an assist for the 12-25-0-1 Pats, who saw their three game win streak come to an end Tuesday.

Robbie Holmes and Liam Schioler also scored for the Pats, who received a 51 save performance from Paddock.

The Raiders will now prepare to open up a five-game home stand Friday at 7 p.m. as they’ll welcome the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Art Hauser Centre for the first time this season.

Post-Game Notes

The Raiders went 5-1 against the Pats this year, as they won the regular season series for the first time since they went 6-2 against their East Division rivals during the 2015-16 campaign.

Gregor, who saw his six-game goal scoring streak end Tuesday, was named the WHL’s player of the week Monday after posting seven points in a three game stretch after Christmas.

Pats netminder Dean McNabb received the goaltender of the week honours after he stopped 43 shots in a 2-1 win over the Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre Sunday.

Lane Kirk, Brett Leason and Ian Scott did not dress for the Raiders, while the Pats scratched Ryker Evans, Carter Massier, Sam McGinley, Koby Morriseau and Garrett Wright.

Tuesday’s Scores

  • Saskatoon 5 Swift Current 2 (Max Gerlach – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Edmonton 3 Vancouver 1 (Dylan Myskiw – 34 Saves)
  • Calgary 6 Victoria 3 (Carson Focht – Two Goals)

Monday’s Scores

  • Moose Jaw 3 Brandon 1 (Brayden Tracey – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Victoria 4 Kootenay 3 (D-Jay Jerome Overtime Winner – Jesse Makaj – 48 Saves)
  • Portland 6 Seattle 3 (Joachim Blichfeld – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Tri-City 6 Spokane 1 (Parker AuCoin – Two Goals and One Assist)

Around the WHL

The Seattle Thunderbirds were busy on New Year’s Day as they made a pair of deals.

In their first trade Tuesday, they sent their top scorer Zack Andrusiak to the Everett Silvertips for fellow overager Sean Richards, unsigned prospect Brendan Williamson, a second round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, a third round pick in 2021 and a conditional fourth round pick in 2022.

Andrusiak, who grew up in Yorkton before moving to Armstrong, B.C., has 39 points in 34 games this year and is coming off a breakout 74-point campaign last season.

He played in eight games for the Prince Albert Raiders in 2016-17 before being traded for Calvin Leth and Kelowna’s 3rd round pick in the 2018 WHL Draft, which ended up in Calgary and was used on defenceman Rory Neill.

Richards, who is from St. Albert, Alta., has 18 points in 27 games this season and is currently in the middle of serving an eight-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct penalty for a hit on now teammate Loeden Schaufler on Dec. 8.

Williamson, a 16-year-old forward from Chilliwack, B.C., was a listed prospect by the Silvertips and has 36 points in 24 games for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds midget program this year.

The Thunderbirds would then deal starting netminder Liam Hughes and an eighth round pick in 2019 to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for forward Keltie Jeri-Leon, signed prospect Michael Horon and a fourth round pick in 2019.

Hughes, a 19-year-old from Kelowna, has a 10-16-3 record this year with a 3.67 goals against average and a .899 save percentage.

He’ll be joining 19-year-old Reece Klassen and 17-year-old Carl Tetachuk on the goaltending depth chart in Lethbridge.

Jeri-Leon, a 17-year-old from Kelowna, has 14 points in 30 games this season after putting up 15 points in 54 games last year between the Tri-City Americans, Kamloops Blazers and Hurricanes.

Horon, a 17-year-old forward from Lethbridge, was a ninth round pick by the Silvertips in 2016 and was acquired by his hometown team for a sixth round pick in the 2019 draft last January.

He leads the Alberta Midget Hockey League in scoring this year with 50 points in 21 games for the Lethbridge Midget Hurricanes.

Prior to the trades, the Thunderbirds signed 18-year-old goaltender Roddy Ross to a standard player agreement.

The Meadow Lake product, who will join 17-year-old Cole Schwebius between the pipes in Seattle, had an 8-5-5 record in the AJHL with the Camrose Kodiaks this season in his first year of junior hockey.

He also posted a 2.93 goals against average, a .921 save percentage and had one shutout at the time of the deal.

Pre-Game Notes

Although Friday will mark the first time that the Warriors have visited the Raiders since last year’s seven-game battle in the first round of the playoffs, the East Divison clubs have squared off twice this season in Moose Jaw.

The Raiders erased a three-goal deficit to pick up a 5-4 overtime win at Mosaic Place on Sept. 29 and followed that up with a 4-2 victory on Oct. 24.

While top blueliner Josh Brook and head coach Tim Hunter are both away at the World Juniors with Team Canada, the 20-8-5-1 Warriors haven’t missed a beat as they have won their last three games and are 10 points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the race for third place in the East Division.

Forwards Justin Almedia, Tristin Langan and rookie scoring leader Brayden Tracey are all on five-game point streaks, while freshman blueliner Daemon Hunt has recorded a point in his last four games.

Wednesday’s Schedule

  • Vancouver vs. Medicine Hat – 8 p.m.
  • Lethbridge vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.

Friday’s Schedule

  • Moose Jaw vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Regina vs. Saskatoon – 7 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
  • Seattle vs. Brandon – 7:30 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Edmonton – 8 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
  • Red Deer vs. Calgary – 8 p.m.
  • Kootenay vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.