It was more of the same for the Prince Albert Raiders Friday, though it wasn’t in the usual positive sense that their performances have been for most of the season.
For the second consecutive home game, the Raiders were on the wrong end of the scoreboard at the Art Hauser Center as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“I thought our best players weren’t our best players and we got outworked tonight,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “That’s something that happened against Regina as well (in a 2-1 setback Sunday) and we can’t let that happen.
“It’s human nature to try and accomplish things the easier way, but that doesn’t always work and the guys are learning that right now. The shots (which were 40-31 in favour of the Raiders) are one thing, but we’re losing the puck battles and cheating a little bit out there.”
The Raiders had a slightly different look to their lineup Friday with Brett Leason and Ian Scott both back from the World Juniors, while Dante Hannoun made his debut for the team after being acquired from the Victoria Royals a day earlier for forwards Kody McDonald and Carson Miller.
“When you inject three new guys and lose two others, there’s obviously going to be a bit of an adjustment as everyone gets used to one another,” Habscheid said.
“Chemistry is one thing, but you still need to compete hard and put the work in out there.”
Meanwhile, the 21-8-5-1 Warriors turned in a solid performance Friday as they picked up their fourth straight win.
“I don’t think many people expected us to be doing as well as we have this year, so that’s something that we always keep in the back of our mind,” Warriors forward Tristin Langan said.
“We just came in here tonight and played a full 60 minutes. That was something that we talked about a lot coming into this game and we were able to stick to our plan.”
Langan recorded his third hat trick of the season Friday and reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career with a shot into an empty net with 9.9 seconds left on the clock.
“I think the biggest thing our line (which includes Justin Almeida and Brayden Tracey) is doing right now is just moving the puck around,” Langan said.
“We seem to be getting in the right spot when we make plays and it seems to be working out for us at the moment.”
Tracey moved his team out in front with a power play goal at the 7:31 mark of the final frame, while Almeida had an assist on Langan’s second period marker.
Josh Brook had three assists in his return to the Warriors lineup after playing with Leason and Scott on Team Canada at the World Juniors.
Jett Woo dished out a pair of helpers for the visitors, while Brodan Salmond turned aside 38 shots.
Ozzy Wiesblatt and Brayden Pachal both scored for the 34-4-0-1 Raiders, who received a 27-save performance from Scott.
The top ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League will continue their five-game homestand Saturday when the Saskatoon Blades come to town for a 7 p.m. contest.
Hannoun makes his Raiders debut
Although he was still getting accustomed to his new surroundings, Dante Hannoun showed Raiders fans a few glimpses of his talents Friday, especially with some dazzling rushes on offence.
“When I came here, everyone said that we have a fast-paced team, and that’s 100 percent true,” Hannoun said. “I thought it was a good game overall for us, but we need to battle for a full 60 minutes and capitalize on our chances.”
“Dante’s probably not used to our quickness yet so it will take a little bit of time for him to get used to that,” Habscheid added. “Obviously you can see the speed that he brings, but we know that he can play faster yet.”
After putting up 36 points in 28 games this season and 248 points over 286 games during his time with the Royals, it’s been a quick turnaround for the Delta, B.C. native as he gets used to his new home in Prince Albert.
“I found out about the trade a couple of days ago after a practice in Calgary,” Hannoun said. “The Royals let me know what was going on and I was heading to the airport a couple of hours later.
“It’s been great to have a few guys here that I know already from my time in Victoria with ‘Gregs’ (Noah Gregor), (Jeremy) Masella and Pachal. I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to the playoff run.”
Kody McDonald and Carson Miller both made their debuts with the Royals Friday, but were held off the scoresheet in a 3-2 road win over the Edmonton Oil Kings.
With his snipe in the second period, Brayden Pachal moved into the outright lead for goals by a blueliner this season with 10, but he would later be matched in that feat by Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants.
Noah Gregor saw his seven game point streak come to an end Friday, while Warriors linemates Tristin Langan, Justin Almeida and Brayden Tracey all got on the scoresheet for the sixth straight game.
Lane Kirk was the only scratch for the Raiders, while Alek Sukunda, Drae Gardiner, Cameron Sterling and Tate Popple did not dress for the Warriors.
Associate coach Mark O’Leary was in charge behind the bench for the visitors, as head coach Tim Hunter did not make the trip to Prince Albert after leading the way for Canada at the World Juniors.
- Brandon 7 Seattle 3 (Luka Burzan – Three Goals and Two Assists – Second Hat Trick This Season)
- Saskatoon 2 Regina 1 (Kyle Crnkovic Overtime Winner – Nolan Maier – 32 Saves)
- Portland 5 Swift Current 3 (Joel Hofer – 43 Saves)
- Victoria 3 Edmonton 2 (Brandon Cutler – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Lethbridge 4 Vancouver 3 (Jake Elmer – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Calgary 5 Red Deer 3 (Cael Zimmerman – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Medicine Hat 5 Kootenay 3 (Tyler Preziuso – Two Goals)
- Prince George 2 Kelowna 1 (Tyson Upper Shootout Winner – Taylor Gauthier – 26 Saves)
- Spokane 4 Kamloops 1 (Luke Toporowski – One Goal and One Assist)
- Tri-City 3 Everett 2 (Beck Warm – 37 Saves)
- Medicine Hat 4 Vancouver 3 (James Hamblin – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Red Deer 5 Lethbridge 4 (Cameron Hausinger Shootout Winner – Brandon Hagel – One Goal and Two Assists)
Around the WHL
A day after making three trades, the Regina Pats made another move Friday as they dealt 19-year-old Jadon Joseph to the Vancouver Giants for a second round pick in 2019 and a sixth round pick in 2020.
Joseph, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes last month along with Ty Kolle in exchange for Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry, has 25 points in 36 games this season.
The Giants would later pick up overage blueliner Dallas Hines (4-12-16) from the Kootenay Ice, with 18-year-old forward Cyle McNabb (1-2-3) going the other way.
Friday’s other deal saw the Seattle Thunderbirds acquire the rights to 17-year-old forward Henry Rybinski from the Medicine Hat Tigers in exchange for unsigned 15-year-old defensive prospect Aidan Brook, a second round pick in 2019 and a third round pick in 2020.
Rybinski, who had five points in 14 games with the Tigers before requesting a trade in November, is currently with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express and has 12 points in nine games.
Brook, who is the younger brother of Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Josh and Prince Albert Raiders forward Jakob, has 20 points in 25 games this year for the Rink Hockey Academy’s Elite 15 program.
Saturday marks the sixth meeting of the season between the East Division rivals, as the Raiders hold a 5-1 advantage in the matchup following a 4-2 home win on Dec. 28.
The Blades, who have a 24-11-5-0 record, are currently on a three-game win streak after a 2-1 overtime triumph at home over the Regina Pats Friday.
Forwards Max Gerlach and Gary Haden have been helping their team find the back of the net lately, as they are currently on six and five game point streaks respectively.
- Medicine Hat vs. Calgary – 2:30 p.m. (Aired nationally on Sportsnet)
- Portland vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
- Regina vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Kootenay – 8 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Kamloops – 9 p.m.
- Tri-City vs. Everett – 9 p.m.