Raiders drop consecutive games for first time this season

Photo Courtesy of Perry Bergson/Brandon Sun Prince Albert Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt tips the puck past the pad of Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Jiri Patera but just wide of the net as Brandon forward Caiden Daley tries to tie him up during their Western Hockey League game at Westoba Place on Saturday.

The Brandon Wheat Kings accomplished something this weekend that no other Western Hockey League team has during the 2018-19 season.

They became the first club to beat the Prince Albert Raiders twice this year and they also handed the league-leaders their first back-to-back losses of the campaign.

Following a 5-4 overtime setback at the Art Hauser Centre Friday, a lackluster start was too much for the Raiders to overcome as they dropped a 6-3 decision to their East Division rivals at Westoba Place.

“When the momentum goes the other way and you have some undisciplined play, it can be frustrating,” Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt said on the 900 CKBI post-game show.

“When the game is still tight and within reach, you got to have everyone on the same page. We’re fighting things a bit right now, but our discipline has got to be better.”

The Raiders ended up on the penalty kill on a season-high 10 occasions Saturday and gave up three goals on the man advantage.

It was also a short night for starting netminder Boston Bilous as he was pulled in favour of affiliated backup Brett Balas after 10 minutes of play.

“It’s not all his fault, but when you look at the scoreboard and he’s given up two goals on seven shots, you have to do something,” Truitt said.

“We shook up things up with our lines and we saw some things later in the game, but we were already down 5-1 halfway through the second and the difference was giving up those three goals on the power play.”

Stelio Mattheos recorded the fourth hat trick of his WHL career and his third of the season in the win, which also saw him pick up an assist on a Cole Reinhardt goal.

Luka Burzan led the way for the 26-22-3-4 Wheat Kings with a goal and four assists, while Reinhardt had a goal and two assists.

Ben McCartney also scored for the hosts, who received a 34-save performance from Jiri Patera.

With the win, which was the third straight for the club, the Wheat Kings are now just four points back of the slumping Red Deer Rebels for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 13 games to go in the regular season.

Justin Nachbaur scored twice in the loss for the 46-8-1-2 Raiders, who also got a goal from Dante Hannoun.

Balas, who plays for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks, made 15 saves in the final 50 minutes.

The Raiders will look to get back on track Monday at the Art Hauser Centre as they open up a five-game home stand against the Moose Jaw Warriors at 4 p.m.

Post-Game Notes

The last time the Raiders lost consecutive regular season games since a pair of setbacks in a home-and-home series with the Saskatoon Blades on March 16 and 17 of last year.

Prior to being on the penalty kill 10 times Saturday, the Raiders had allowed a season-high eight power play chances to the Regina Pats on Sept. 22, the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Oct. 5 and the Kootenay Ice on Nov. 24.

Dante Hannoun extended his point streak to seven games with his goal in the first period, while Sean Montgomery (six games), Parker Kelly (five games) and Sergei Sapego (five games) all saw their runs come to an end.

Brett Leason and Ian Scott missed their fourth straight game for the Raiders with lower body injuries, while the Wheat Kings scratched Jonny Lambos and Jonny Hooker.

Saturday’s Scores

  • Moose Jaw 6 Regina 3 (Brayden Tracey – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Saskatoon 5 Lethbridge 2 (Kirby Dach – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Calgary 5 Medicine Hat 3 (Mark Kastelic – Three Goals – Second Hat Trick This Season)
  • Vancouver 2 Kelowna 0 (David Tendeck – 22 Saves – Third Shutout This Season and Sixth Career)
  • Portland 2 Red Deer 0 (Joel Hofer – 25 Saves – Third Shutout This Season and Fourth Career)
  • Victoria 5 Prince George 4 (Kody McDonald Shootout Winner – Two Goals – Carson Miller – Two Goals)
  • Seattle 4 Everett 1 (Roddy Ross – 46 Saves)
  • Tri-City 7 Spokane 5 (Kyle Olson – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick)

Pre-Game Notes

After a 6-3 home win over the Regina Pats Saturday, the 31-15-6-2 Warriors have an 11-point lead over the Brandon Wheat Kings for third spot in the East Division.

They are also 12 points back of the Saskatoon Blades for second place and have four games in hand on their provincial rival.

The Raiders have won three out of the four meetings with the Warriors this year, with their only loss coming in a 4-2 matchup at the Art Hauser Centre on Jan. 4.

Twin brothers Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn are both currently sidelined for the Warriors with upper body injuries.

Sunday’s Schedule

  • Seattle vs. Portland – 6 p.m.

Monday’s Schedule

  • Swift Current vs. Brandon – 2:30 p.m.
  • Medicine Hat vs. Edmonton – 3 p.m.
  • Lethbridge vs. Kootenay – 3 p.m.
  • Moose Jaw vs. Prince Albert – 4 p.m.
  • Tri-City vs. Kamloops – 4 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Prince George – 4 p.m.
  • Kelowna vs. Victoria – 4 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Vancouver – 5 p.m.