Leason and Scott impress in return to Raiders lineup

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders linemates Aliaksei Protas, Sean Montgomery and Brett Leason celebrate after Montgomery scored in the first period against the Kootenay Ice Friday.

Even though they hadn’t played in two weeks due to lower body injuries, Brett Leason and Ian Scott didn’t miss a beat as they stepped back out on the ice Friday.

In their first appearances in a Prince Albert Raiders uniform since a road game against the Calgary Hitmen on Friday, Feb. 8, Leason had three assists and Scott stopped all 21 shots he faced as their team shutout the Kootenay Ice in a 4-0 affair at the Art Hauser Centre.

“It sucks when you are up in the stands and watching the guys play so it was great to be on the ice once again,” Scott said.

“I’ve really missed being out there with the team so it was a good feeling to play a role in helping us get the win tonight,” Leason added.

Leason’s playmaking abilities were on full display Friday as he set up a pair of goals for linemate Sean Montgomery and also dished out a helper on a first period snipe by captain Brayden Pachal.

“Our line (which includes Aliaksei Protas) was really feeling it out there tonight and I think this game was a good example of what we can do when we are all clicking,” Leason said.

“There was a physical aspect of our game that everyone brought tonight,
which is going to be a key part of how we play here as we get closer to the
playoffs.”

Scott’s shutout performance was his fifth of the season and also marked the
fourth time that he had held the Ice off of the scoresheet in his WHL career.

“I have no idea what the secret is against them,” Scott joked.

“We did a really good job of shutting down their offence and we didn’t
give them a lot of chances. It felt good to have a game like that as we’re all
trying to get into the right mindset before the post-season gets
underway.”

Rookie Ozzy Wiesblatt rounded out the scoring for the 48-8-1-2 Raiders, who have won two straight games.

The 11-37-7-2 Ice, who are on a seven-game losing skid ahead of a trip to Saskatoon Saturday, received an excellent performance from overage netminder Curtis Meger as the former Raider turned aside 26 shots.

“He had (Parker) Kelly’s number a few times tonight,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.

“Curtis helped us quite a lot when he was here and he’s a quality person, so it was nice to see him have a good game.”

The Raiders will look to keep up their winning ways against the Brandon Wheat Kings in a 7 p.m. matchup at the Art Hauser Centre Saturday.

They will then take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes Wednesday and the Red Deer Rebels next Friday night.

“We talked a lot about playoff hockey this morning and getting into that mentality,” Habscheid said. “The advantage that we had last year was the fact that we had been playing playoff hockey for about a month before our series with Moose Jaw, which is obviously not the case this year.

“We went over how we need to play in these last 10 games and I thought we did a good job of playing that playoff style of hockey tonight.”

Post-Game Notes

Marc Habscheid became the eight head coach in WHL history to reach the 1,000 game mark when he stood behind the bench for the Raiders Friday.

The other members of that club are as follows:

  • Ken Hodge – 1,411
  • Don Hay – 1,364
  • Don Nachbaur – 1,333
  • Mike Williamson – 1,176
  • Lorne Molleken – 1,136
  • Ernie McLean – 1,067
  • Peter Anholt – 1,019

Friday’s victory for the Raiders was their sixth straight over the Ice and it also marked their eight consecutive win over the team at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Raiders also swept the season series over the Ice for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign.

This marked the final time that the two teams will face each other in their current iterations, as the Ice franchise will be leaving Cranbrook, B.C. at the end of the year and will be based out of Winnipeg next season.

Raiders forward Dante Hannoun was held off of the scoresheet Friday, which brought an end to his eight game point streak.

Forward Cole Nagy, goaltender Brett Balas and blueliner Max Martin did not dress for the home side, while the Ice scratched netminder Duncan McGovern, defencemen Marco Creta and Jordan Chudley, plus forwards River Fahey and Holden Kodak.

Canada Winter Games Update

Prince Albert Raiders prospect Tyson Laventure picked up a bronze medal with Team Alberta on Friday in Red Deer as they cruised to a 12-0 romp over Saskatchewan in the Canada Winter Games men’s hockey event.

Laventure had a goal and an assist for Alberta, who were led by a natural hat trick performance in the first period by underage forward Matthew Savoie, who is expected to be the first overall pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.

A second round pick by the Raiders last May, Laventure had five goals and an assist for Alberta during the tournament.

The Saskatchewan team featured Raiders defensive prospect Nolan Allan and draft pick Logan Linklater, along with Gabe Klassen, Marek Schneider, Logan Cox and Ashton Ferster of the Prince Albert Mintos.

Allan, the third overall pick in the 2018 WHL Draft, had four goals and two assists during the week, while Linklater lit the lamp four times.

Klassen had four points at the tournament, while Ferster and Cox had three and two points respectively.

Schneider was held off of the scoresheet.

Zachary L’Herueux was the hero in overtime for Quebec as they took home the gold medal with a 4-3 win over Ontario.

Friday’s Scores

  • Regina 5 Calgary 4 (Logan Nijhoff Overtime Winner – Mark Kastelic – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Moose Jaw 4 Swift Current 2 (Justin Almeida – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Brandon 6 Saskatoon 2 (Luka Burzan – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Edmonton 2 Red Deer 1 (Dylan Myskiw – 29 Saves)
  • Lethbridge 6 Medicine Hat 3 (Nick Henry – Three Assists)
  • Prince George 2 Kamloops 1 (Vladislav Mikhalchuk Shootout Winner – Taylor Gauthier – 41 Saves)
  • Kelowna 4 Spokane 3 (Nolan Foote Shootout Winner – Leif Mattson – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Tri-City 4 Portland 2 (Beck Warm – 33 Saves)
  • Vancouver 4 Victoria 0 (David Tendeck – 26 Saves – Fourth Shutout This Season and Seventh Career)
  • Seattle 3 Everett 2 (Jarret Tyszka Overtime Winner – Roddy Ross – 39 Saves)

Wednesday’s Scores

  • Brandon 5 Calgary 1 (Stelio Mattheos – Two Goals and Two Assists)
  • Regina 5 Kootenay 4 (Garrett Wright Shootout Winner – Brady Pouteau – One Goal and One Assist)

Tuesday’s Scores

  • Everett 4 Prince George 1 (Reece Vitelli – Two Goals)
  • Tri-City 6 Red Deer 3 (Kyle Olson – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Victoria 6 Kelowna 2 (Kaid Oliver – Two Goals and Two Assists)

Pre-Game Notes

Saturday’s meeting in Prince Albert is the final one of the regular season between the two sides, which see the Raiders currently holding a 3-2 advantage.

The 29-22-3-4 Wheat Kings, who swept a home-and-home series with the Raiders last weekend, are the hottest team in the WHL at the moment as they’ve won their last six games.

Following a 6-2 victory at home over the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, the Wheat Kings hold a two-point advantage over the Red Deer Rebels in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Forwards Luka Burzan and Stelio Mattheos have played key roles in the team’s recent run of form as they are both on seven game point streaks, while forward Cole Reinhardt and blueliner Zach Wytinck have recorded points in five straight games.

Prince Albert’s Braden Schneider is second among Brandon blueliners in scoring this year with 21 points in 48 games.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Regina vs. Moose Jaw – 2:30 p.m. (Airing Nationally on Sportsnet)
  • Brandon vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Kootenay vs. Saskatoon – 7 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Seattle – 8 p.m.
  • Lethbridge vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
  • Tri-City vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Victoria – 9 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Everett – 9 p.m.
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