A two minute and 39 second span was all the Prince Albert Raiders needed to pick up a win Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre.
A blast from Zach Hayes with 28.2 seconds left in the middle stanza, a snipe from Dante Hannoun just 94 seconds into the third period and a power play goal from Sean Montgomery at the 2:11 mark of the final frame moved the Raiders out in front for good as they picked up a 3-2 win over the Saskatoon Blades and now hold a 2-0 advantage in their Western Hockey League Eastern Conference quarter-final series.
“That’s the beauty of junior hockey,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.
“Zach’s goal was huge for us and you could tell that energized the whole team as it got our legs going again. He’s more of a defensive guy, but we loved his offensive game tonight.”
The Raiders sudden offensive explosion changed the face of the game as they were having trouble trying to solve Blades netminder Nolan Maier.
“We were just off a little bit in the first two periods,” Habscheid said. “We were just missing on our passes and we didn’t have a lot of guys driving to the net, so it was just the little things that were costing us.
“There was a shift a few minutes before Zach’s goal where our fourth line (Jakob Brook, Eric Pearce and Justin Nachbaur) went up against their top line (Kirby Dach, Ryan Hughes and Max Gerlach). They generated some chances and got the crowd going, which helped to build some momentum.”
Hannoun led the way for the Raiders on offence with a goal and an assist, while Ian Scott made 24 saves
“I thought we were a little bit flat in the first period but I we regrouped really well during the intermissions and finished strong,” Hannoun said.
“We stuck to the details, kept the lines rolling and everyone was buying in.”
A highlight-reel goal from Dach and a rebound marker from Eric Florchuk gave the Blades a 2-0 lead after 24 minutes, but they were unable to expand on their lead.
They did have a couple of chances to tie things up in the third, but Hughes hit the post on a late power play and Gerlach fanned on an open net in the final minute of play.
“We took a couple of minutes off and that was the difference tonight,” Blades head coach Mitch Love said. “We’re getting closer to that 60-minute threshold though and our compete level was a lot better than it was Friday.”
“We’ve played some great hockey at home this year and it should be a pretty energetic building with our fans and their fans on Tuesday night.”
After being pulled in the third period Friday, Maier was excellent in goal for the Blades on Sunday as he turned aside 29 shots.
“Friday’s performance had nothing to do with Nolan,” Love said. “That was due to the five guys in front of them and the breakdowns they had.
“Nolan gave us a chance to win tonight and that’s all you can ask for.”
The two East Division sides will be headed to Saskatoon for a 7 p.m. matchup at the SaskTel Centre for the third game in the series, which will be televised nationally on Sportsnet.
“We expect another close game,” Hannoun said. “Every team at this stage of the season is going to be battling hard.”
The only lineup change for either side was by the Blades, as Majid Kaddoura replaced Reece Harsch on defence.
Dorrin Luding, Alex Ozar, Randen Schmidt and Colton Dach were the other scratches for the Blades, while Loeden Schaufler did not dress for the Raiders.
- Spokane 3 Everett 1 (Spokane leads 2-0 – Bailey Brkin – 30 Saves)
- Edmonton 4 Calgary 1 (Edmonton leads 2-0 – Dylan Myskiw – 26 Saves)
- Ottawa 5 Sudbury 0 (Ottawa leads 2-0 – Tye Felhaber – One Goal and Two Assists – Michael DiPietro – 27 Saves – First Career Playoff Shutout)
- Niagara 5 Oshawa 1 (Niagara leads 2-0 – Jason Robertson – Two Goals and One Assist)
- London 7 Guelph 0 (London leads 2-0 – Kevin Hancock – Two Goals and One Assist – Jordan Kooy – 27 Saves – Second Playoff Shutout)
- Saginaw 10 Sault Ste. Marie 1 (Saginaw leads 2-0 – Ryan McLeod – Two Goals and Two Assists)
- Cape Breton 2 Rimouski 1 (Series tied 1-1 – Kevin Mandolese – 28 Saves)
- Edmonton 3 Calgary 2 (Edmonton leads 1-0 – Jake Neighbours Overtime Winner – Two Goals)
- Vancouver 2 Victoria 1 (Vancouver leads 2-0 – Tristen Nielsen Overtime Winner – One Goal and One Assist – Griffen Outhouse – 37 Saves)
- Spokane 6 Everett 3 (Spokane leads 1-0 – Ethan McIndoe – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Drummondville 7 Sherbrooke 1 (Drummondville leads 2-0 – Nicolas Beaudin – Three Assists)
- Halifax 3 Moncton 2 (Halifax leads 2-0 – Raphael Lavoie – Two Goals)
- Rouyn-Noranda 3 Victoriaville 1 (Rouyn-Noranda leads 2-0 – Noah Dobson – One Goal and One Assist)
- Drummondville vs. Sherbrooke (Game 3) – 5 p.m.
- London vs. Guelph (Game 3) – 5 p.m.
- Halifax vs. Moncton (Game 3) – 4 p.m.
- Rimouski vs. Cape Breton (Game 3) – 4 p.m.
- Rouyn-Noranda vs. Victoriaville (Game 3) – 4 p.m.
- Ottawa vs. Sudbury (Game 3) – 5 p.m.
- Niagara vs. Oshawa (Game 3) – 5 p.m.
- Saginaw vs. Sault Ste. Marie (Game 3) – 5 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Saskatoon (Game 3) – 7 p.m.
- Edmonton vs. Calgary (Game 3) – 7 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Victoria (Game 3) – 8 p.m.