A three-point night on offence earned Prince Albert Raiders forward Parker Kelly first star honours at the Art Hauser Centre Friday.
However, it was his play in his own end that left a sour taste in his mouth after his team dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“We were all pretty soft tonight, myself included,” Kelly said. “It wasn’t a great defensive game for us and that’s what is comes down to in games like this. We need to change some stuff with our defensive zone play if we want to make a deep playoff run.
“We need to be heavier out there. We can’t get beat in the corners and us forwards need to be out there blocking shots. We were really easy to play against and it comes down to us leaders. We didn’t do our job and we need to figure things out.”
Head coach Marc Habscheid also lamented the team’s performance as they saw their five-game win streak come to an end.
“We were coming off that game in Swift Current on Wednesday (where Raiders picked up a 3-1 victory) which felt like a shinny game at times,” Habscheid said. “This was a completely different game where you need guys to compete.
“Some of our guys did that but we had a couple of our key guys who weren’t interested in competing one bit out there. I’m sure you can figure out who they were.”
In what was a back-and-forth game between the East Division sides, the Raiders took a 4-3 lead with 6:35 to go as Kelly potted his second goal of the night on the power play, only to see Luka Burzan tie things up for the Wheat Kings 15 seconds later.
“You have to give Brandon credit as they played hard and physical tonight in a game that’s huge for them,” Habscheid said.
“I didn’t like our resolve and I thought we were on our heels at times tonight. We wanted to play river hockey out there and it showed with the way some of our guys were playing.”
After Stellio Mattheos and Cole Fonstad traded chances in the three-on-three overtime frame, blueliner Zach Wytinck proved to be the unlikely hero for the Wheat Kings as his long-range shot bounced off of the leg of Raiders defenceman Zach Hayes and went by goaltender Boston Bilous.
“It was a pretty crazy ending, especially with the amount of back and forth action between both teams,” Wytinck said.
“I got a good pass (from Linden McCorrister) and I was able to walk in. I backed off a little bit and tried to put it on net, but I ended up being a little bit lucky there with that ricochet.”
Thanks to that goal, the 25-22-3-4 Wheat Kings picked up their second win in a row and now find themselves six points back of the Calgary Hitmen and the Red Deer Rebels in the race for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
“We need all the points we can get here in these last 14 games,” Wytinck said.
“It doesn’t matter who we are playing in all honesty. We need to try and get wins however we can.”
Cole Reinhardt led the way for the Wheat Kings, who also got goals from Caiden Daley and Ben McCartney, while Jiri Patera stopped 28 shots.
Kelly had two goals and an assist to lead the way for the 46-7-1-2 Raiders, who received a two-assist outing from Max Martin.
Aliaksei Protas had a goal and an assist in the loss, while Sean Montgomery also found the back of the net after missing Wednesday’s game in Swift Current due to an illness.
Bilous made 23 saves as he suffered his first defeat in a Raiders uniform.
The two sides will square off again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Westoba Place in Brandon
The Raiders will then return home Monday for a 4 p.m. contest with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Friday’s overtime loss was the first in a regular season game for the Raiders since Cameron Hebig gave the Regina Pats a 5-4 win at the Brandt Centre on Feb. 3, 2018.
It was also the team’s first extra time setback since Brayden Burke found the back of the net for the Moose Jaw Warriors in a wild 5-4 affair in Game 3 of the 2018 Eastern Conference quarter-final series at the Art Hauser Centre.
With the loss, the Raiders are now 3-1 against the Wheat Kings this season and saw a six-game home win streak over their divisional rivals come to an end.
Sean Montgomery and Dante Hannoun extended their point streaks to six games Friday, while Parker Kelly and Sergei Sapego have now recorded points in five straight contest.
Ian Scott and Brett Leason missed their third straight game for the Raiders with lower body injuries, while the Wheat Kings did not dress Vinny Iorio and Ty Thorpe.
- Regina 4 Edmonton 0 (Max Paddock – 30 Saves – Second Shutout This Season – Austin Pratt – One Goal and One Assist)
- Lethbridge 7 Swift Current 2 (Jake Elmer – Three Goals – Second Hat Trick This Season)
- Calgary 3 Medicine Hat 1 (Carl Stankowski – 29 Saves)
- Saskatoon 8 Kootenay 3 (Kyle Crnkovic – Two Goals and Two Assists)
- Everett 3 Kelowna 1 (Bryce Kindopp – Two Goals)
- Victoria 4 Prince George 1 (Tanner Sidaway – Two Goals)
- Seattle 6 Red Deer 4 (Matthew Wedman – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Tri-City 5 Kamloops 3 (Beck Warm – 42 Saves)
- Vancouver 5 Spokane 4 (Milos Roman – One Goal and One Assist)
Around the CHL
The Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs have received a fine of $250,000 and have lost their first round picks in the 2019 and 2021 OHL Draft after the league found that the team had violated player recruitment policies.
The IceDogs, who are currently battling the Sudbury Wolves for the Central Division title and the second overall seed in the Eastern Conference, plan to appeal the penalty and blamed the alleged issues on the team’s staff in 2016.
Marty Williamson was the head coach and general manager of the team at the time and was fired shortly after leading the program to the OHL final.
- Regina vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Brandon – 7:30 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Portland – 8 p.m.
- Everett vs. Seattle – 8 p.m.
- Calgary vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.