The Prince Albert Raiders came close to extending their four-game winning streak, but not close enough.
Nolan Foote scored the lone shootout goal and Roman Basran was spectacular in net as the Raiders fell to the Kelowna Rockets 4-3 in a back-and-forth affair at Prospera Place.
Despite the loss, Raiders coach Marc Habscheid said he was happy with how his team played.
“I thought we were pretty good, but they came off a big win and were all ramped up to play us,” Habscheid said. “I thought they played good, but we probably deserved a better fate. Their goaltender definitely was the difference in the game.”
The Rockets were looking to establish their reputations as giant killers after beating the U.S. Division leading Everett Silvertips 2-0 on Friday. However, it was the Raiders who struck first.
Aliaksei Protas banged in a rebound during a mad goalmouth scramble less than five minutes into the first period, silencing an enthusiastic crowd of 5,204. The lead didn’t last long.
Kyle Topping tied things up with seven-and-a-half minutes to go in the opening period, with assists to Foote and Leif Mattson. Foote then put the Rockets ahead with less than three minutes to play when he fired a quick shot past Ian Scott before taking a hard hit from Raider captain Brayden Pachal.
The Raiders tied things up quickly in the second. Dante Hannoun took a pass from Spencer Moe and snapped a wrist shot over Basran’s glove to make it 2-2.
Both teams had chances to break the tie in the second, but Foote came the closest when he fired a shot off the crossbar with roughly six minutes to play.
Prince Albert then retook the lead roughly eight minutes into the third after Parker Kelly converted a beautiful cross-ice feed from Moe to make it 3-2.
Hannoun drew the second assist on the goal, giving him two points on the night, and five in his last four games.
“He’s getting used to how we play,” Habscheid said when asked about the Delta, B.C. product. “Everyday he’s getting better.”
The Raiders put plenty of pressure on the home side during the rest of the period, but a flurry of acrobatic saves from Basran kept the score at 3-2. Then at 6:09, a tripping penalty to Noah Gregor opened the door and the Rockets took full advantage.
Defenceman Lassi Thomson hammered a slapshot over Scott’s shoulder for his 10th of the season, with assists to Foote and Basran.
After a scoreless overtime period, in which Scott was forced to make a big point-blank save on Kelowna’s Michael Farren, Basran stopped Hannoun, Gregor and Brett Leason on shootout attempts. Scott made saves on Topping and Mattson, but was unable to handle Foote’s quick wrist shot.
The loss gives the Raiders a 39-5-2 record as they continue their western road swing. They’ll be in action again on Tuesday to face former teammates Kody McDonald, Carson Miller and the Kelowna Rockets. Puck drop is 9:05 CST.
The Rockets, meanwhile, improve to 19-22-4, and close within three points of the Victoria Royals for second place in the B.C. Division.