Giants hold off Raiders in topsy-turvy series opener

Daily Herald File Photo The Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants will square off for the first time since the Ed Chynoweth Cup final on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Art Hauser Centre.

On a night that featured a number of momentum swings, the final minute of play in the second period proved to be a game-changer Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.

With the score at three goals apiece in Game 1 of the Ed Chynoweth Cup, Prince Albert Raiders forward Dante Hannoun was called for boarding with 56.5 seconds left in the frame and nearly two minutes after he had tied the game up.

The Vancouver Giants would soon take advantage of the situation as Yannik Valenti one-timed a snipe from Davis Koch to give the visitors the lead back with 30.6 seconds to go.

With the crowd still recovering from that marker, Dawson Holt shot the puck from behind the net and off of Ian Scott for his second goal of the night with 16.5 seconds left on the clock, as the visitors would go on to pick up a 5-4 win in the series opener.

“That power play was a huge opportunity for us to get back into the game, especially after they had tied it up, as they had us on our heels at that point,” Giants head coach Michael Dyck said.

“We focus a lot on using our power play to get momentum going and we were rolling again thanks to those two goals.”

Although the Raiders suffered their first regulation loss on home ice since a 6-3 setback to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Feb. 1, head coach Marc Habscheid was fairly pleased with how his team played.

“We had a nervous start, especially in the first 10 minutes when they went up 2-0,” Habscheid said. “Once we got our legs going and used our speed, we played well.

“I liked our penalty killing, but our discipline needs to be better. Marginal penalties are one thing but there were a few no-brainers as well. We need to keep that out of our game.”

Another positive for the Raiders was their ability to claw their way back from deficits and score shortly after the Giants found the back of the net, especially in a near three-minute sequence in the middle frame where the teams combined for three goals.

“A lot of that came from staying calm,” Hannoun said. “The next shift after a goal is so important, especially in the playoffs, so we just wanted to take things one shift at a time at that point.”

Hannoun had a goal and an assist to lead the way on offence, while Parker Kelly dished out a pair of helpers.

Noah Gregor, Brett Leason and Jeremy Masella also scored for the Raiders, with Masella sending the fans to their feet with a highlight reel goal as the blueliner drove the net and slid the puck past David Tendeck.

It was a tough night for netminder Ian Scott at the other end of the rink, as the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect made 21 saves in the loss.

“It’s a little bit of an elephant in the room, but there’s a couple of goals that Ian wants back for sure,” Habscheid said. “However, we win and lose as a team. He’ll be better tomorrow night and we’ll be as well.”

Giants blueliner Bowen Byram had another impressive night on offence as he led the way with four assists.

Captain Jared Dmytriw had a goal and two assists for his team, while Holt had a pair of goals in the triumph.

“The crowd here in Prince Albert is loud, there’s no doubt about it, so to get a couple of goals and help to quiet down their fans a bit was huge,” Holt said.

“Our power play stepped up tonight, especially when we got the momentum back late in the second,” Dmytriw added. “That allowed us to play a really good third period and get the win.”

The visitors also got a goal from Dylan Plouffe and a 25-save showing from Tendeck.

As the Raiders and Giants prepare for a rematch at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre, both sides are looking to build off the positives from Friday’s nine-goal affair.

“It’s just the small things that we need to improve like our discipline,” Raiders captain Brayden Pachal said. “We used our speed well tonight and that’s something we continue to use to our advantage tomorrow.”

“I don’t think there’s much we need to change except being more consistent in certain parts of our game,” Dyck added. “You have to give Prince Albert credit though. They came at us at times out there and showed why they are one of the top teams in the country.”

Post-Game Notes

Thanks to his four-assist night, Bowen Byram became the first player to reach the 20-point mark in this year’s WHL playoffs and now has 22 points in 16 games.

No blueliner has ever led the post-season in scoring, with former Raider Chris Phillips coming the closest in 1997 as his 25 points was three markers off Lethbridge Hurricanes teammate Byron Ritchie for the league lead.

The 1985 WHL and Memorial Cup champion Raiders were saluted prior to Friday’s game, with Ken Morrison, Doug Hobson, Kim Issel, Roydon Gunn, Manny Viverios and Curtis Hunt taking part in the ceremonial puck drop.

Loeden Schaufler was the lone scratch for the Raiders, while the Giants did not dress Drew Sim, Nicholas Draffin, Tyler Ho, Aidan Barfoot and Evan Patrician.

Friday’s Scores

QMJHL

  • Halifax 5 Rouyn-Noranda 4 (Series tied 1-1 – Benoit-Olivier Groulx Double Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist)

Thursday’s Scores

OHL

  • Ottawa 7 Guelph 2 (Ottawa leads 1-0 – Sasha Chmelevski – Two Goals and Two Assists)

QMJHL

  • Rouyn-Noranda 5 Halifax 2 (Rouyn-Noranda leads 1-0 – Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Two Goals and One Assist)

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Guelph vs. Ottawa (Game 2) – 12 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Prince Albert (Game 2) – 7 p.m.