It was the first game in almost two months for Boston Bilous, but you wouldn’t know it from his play on Saturday.
The Langley, B.C. product stopped 29 of 30 shots he faced in his first start since being acquired by the Prince Albert Raiders at the trade deadline, leading his new club to a 4-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. It was a happy moment not only for Bilous, but his new club as well.
“I don’t think he’s played since November or something, so he was a little nervous,” Raiders coach Marc Habscheid said after the game. “Once he got rid of the nerves he was good. He’s a big guy. You can tell he knows what he’s doing and he’s just a tremendous kid. Everybody was pulling for him. He made some big saves and was a big part of our win.”
With Bilous making his first start since Nov. 24, the Raiders wasted little time giving him some offensive support.
Brett Leason struck just 28 seconds into the opening period, when his shot snuck past the blocker of 16-year-old Blazers rookie Dylan Garand. The lead was short-lived.
Defenceman Jackson Caller tied things up at one for the home side when he fired a rebound into the back of the net almost six minutes into the period.
However Ozzy Wiesblatt restored Prince Albert’s one goal lead when he tipped in a pass from Cole Fonstad with 5:07 to go in the first. Max Martin had the other assist.
“(Kamloops) has got a big team, a strong team, and they played a heavy game,” Habscheid said. “They pushed us, for sure and I thought our game got better as the game went on. I thought their team played well, but we managed to get the win and that’s what we wanted.”
After a scoreless second period the Raiders broke things open in the third. Dante Hannoun made it 3-1 when he tipped in one of Martin’s point shots exactly one minute into the final frame. Justin Nachbaur added additional insurance with 4:20 to go after another redirection in front, this time off a pass from Leason.
“I thought from the middle of the second we kind of took over,” Habscheid said. “The goal early in the third was key because (Kamloops) doesn’t score a lot so when we got that they were down 3-1, and that’s a big mountain for them.”
The win gives the Raiders two wins in the first two games of their western road swing, and improves their record to 35-5-1 on the season. With the loss, the Blazers fall to 15-24-3, and remain in last place in the WHL Western Conference.
The Raiders continue their road trip on Saturday when they visit Prospera Place to visit the Kelowna Rockets. Puck drop is 9:05 CST.