It might have been the last day of a lengthy road trip, but the Prince Albert Raiders showed no signs of fatigue Saturday night.
Prince Albert used strength, speed and passing to dominate the lowly Kootenay Ice and earn their 41st win of the season.
A few of the team’s more prolific scorers found their way on the scoresheet, with Dante Hannoun, Parker Kelly, Spencer Moe and Noah Gregor finishing with three or more points.
“I thought this was probably our best energy of the trip,” head coach Marc Habscheid said following the game. “We were quick tonight.”
Hannoun was the first to find the back of the net.
Just 58 seconds in, Moe cut to the net and fired a shot that bounced off of Kootenay goalie Jesse Makaj right to Hannoun’s stick. Hannoun found the open net to put the Raiders up by one.
Three minutes later, Hannoun got involved again. Using their speed, the Raiders broke out on a rush on the penalty kill. Hannoun fed Kelly with a cross-ice pass, and the Ottawa Senators prospect potted his 23rd of the year to increase the lead to two.
Midway through the opening frame, Brad Ginnell countered for the home side. His 11th, with assists from Peyton Krebs and Chase Hartje, cut the lead in half.
The Raiders got off to another quick start in the second. Just 12 seconds in, Gregor snapped one from the top of the faceoff circle past Makaj for his 28th on the year. Justin Nauchbauer and Brayden Pachal earned assists on the marker.
About seven minutes later, the Ice struck again with a shorthanded goal of their own. Jakin Smallwood tucked in his eighth to narrow the lead to one.
With seven minutes to go in the second, Moe showed off his hands. He took a pass from Kelly, split the D and went forehand-backhand on Makaj to restore the two-goal lead.
From there, the Raiders turned on the jets. Gregor found the puck on the penalty kill and sniped one past the glove of Makaj to increase the margin to 5-2.
With 12:50 to go in the third, he struck again. Gregor took the puck for a loop around the offensive zone, before finding some space near the top of the faceoff circle and snapping the puck short side for his third of the night, increasing the lead to 6-2.
It was the 20-year-old’s first career WHL hat trick.
“I never realized — I think he told me on the bench he had 27 two-goal games in his career, and this was his first trick,” Habscheid said.
It’s also the first time to the 30-goal plateau for the San Jose Sharks prospect. He finished with 29 goals last year, and 27 the year prior. So far this year, Gregor has 30 goals and 33 assists in 44 games with the Raiders.
Justin Nachbaur and Max Martin added assists on the hat trick goal.
The offensive onslaught didn’t end there. Hannoun, already with a goal and an assist in the contest, finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Kelly and Moe. Hannoun and Moe ended with three-point nights, while Kelly earned four on the night.
Connor McClennon came in late in the third as the trailer to finish off a rebound from a two-on-one chance for Kootenay, but that was as close as the Ice would get.
Final score: 7-2 for Prince Albert. Boston Bilous made 32 saves for the Raiders to post his second win in two starts since being acquired from Edmonton at the trade deadline.
The pair of Raiders shorthanded goals gives the team 20 on the year. Gregor and Kelly each have four, while team scoring leader Brett Leason has five.
“They’re just good players and they’re quick,” Habscheid said of his team’s penalty kill.
“They get a chance to go and they go.”
Next up, the Raiders return home Friday after a lengthy road trip to take on the Edmonton Oil Kings.
“We’re just going to take a couple of days off here,” Habscheid said. “It’s been a long trip.”
Following Friday’s matchup against Edmonton, Moose Jaw pays a visit to the Art Hauser Saturday. The Raiders then head on a four-game road swing through Alberta, with a stop on the way back in Swift Current, before hosting Brandon at home on February 15.