After scoring six times in the last three games against the Saskatoon Blades in the second round of the playoffs, Prince Albert Raiders overage forward Dante Hannoun was held off of the scoresheet in the first five games of the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final.
An assist in the series clincher against the Edmonton Oil Kings seemed to be the kickstarter that Hannoun needed ahead of the Ed Chynoweth Cup against the Vancouver Giants.
Following a two-point night Friday, Hannoun had a goal and two assists Saturday as the Raiders picked up a 4-0 win to even up the best-of-seven following the first two contests at the Art Hauser Centre.
“The confidence factor is huge,” said Hannoun, who is now second in WHL playoff scoring with 20 points in 18 games. “When you are struggling a bit, you just need to battle through each game and continue to work hard.
“I don’t think it’s just myself though that’s allowed me to have the strong start in this series. Everyone I’m playing with is working well off each other, especially my linemates (Parker Kelly and Justin Nachbaur), as we seem to get a good read off of one another.”
It was an impressive showing from top to bottom for the Raiders, as their start was much improved compared to Friday night when they fell behind 2-0 to the Giants after six minutes of play.
“It’s nice to have that home ice advantage, but sometimes it can be easier to start on the road, especially against a team that you don’t play a lot,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid joked.
“I liked a lot from our game last night and we just carried that over into tonight. We had our speed, we were executing plays and we were physical. There wasn’t too much that we had to change, but there was some more in the gas tank that we used tonight.”
Parker Kelly had a pair of assists for the Raiders, while Brett Leason, Noah Gregor and Sergei Sapego also scored.
Although he wasn’t tested often, Ian Scott stopped all 15 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the playoffs in what was a nice bounce-back showing for the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect after he gave up five goals on 26 shots Friday.
“The guys kept faith in me and the sun came up this morning,” Scott said. “The playoffs are a roller coaster so you just have to make sure you are keeping everything on an even keel.”
The only negative for the Raiders was when defenceman Max Martin left the game during the second period after he crashed into the end boards in a race for the puck.
His status for Tuesday’s Game 3 in Langley is unclear at this point with Habscheid saying that he will be revaluated on Sunday.
Goaltender David Tendeck was the lone bright spot for the Giants in Saturday’s setback as the Arizona Coyotes draft pick made 30 saves.
“David was solid but we need to do a better job of insulating him as we left him out to dry a few times,” Giants head coach Michael Dyck said.
“We were on our heels from the start of the game. We came back in spurts, but nothing was sustained.”
Both teams will fly out of Prince Albert Sunday ahead of the third game of the series at the Langley Events Centre at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Game 4 will take place Wednesday at 8 p.m., with the fifth game being held there Friday at 8:30 p.m.
If needed, Game 6 would be held at the Art Hauser Centre next Sunday at 6 p.m.
The Raiders would host a seventh and deciding contest, if required, at 7 p.m. next Monday night.
According to CHL stat guru Geoffrey Brandow, the 15 shots that Vancouver had Saturday was the least in a WHL league final contest since the Lethbridge Hurricanes fired 14 shots on net in a 4-1 loss to the Spokane Chiefs in Game 1 of the 2008 Ed Chynoweth Cup.
In addition to moving into the CHL lead for shutouts in the playoffs with four, Ian Scott also became the first Raiders netminder to keep the Giants off the scoresheet.
The last time that the Giants were shutout in a post-season affair was in Game 2 of the 2014 first round, when Brendan Burke made 15 saves in a 3-0 win for the Portland Winterhawks.
The lineups for each side were the same as Game 1, with Loeden Schaufler being the lone scratch for the Raiders and the Giants not dressing Drew Sim, Nicholas Draffin, Tyler Ho, Aidan Barfoot and Evan Patrician.
- Ottawa 4 Guelph 3 (Ottawa leads 2-0 – Lucas Chiodo Three Assists – 67’s goaltender Michael DiPietro left the game at the 14:50 mark of the first period with a right leg injury – Cedrick Andree made 26 saves in relief)
- Rouyn-Noranda vs. Halifax (Game 3) – 5 p.m.
- Ottawa vs. Guelph (Game 3) – 5 p.m.
- Rouyn-Noranda vs. Halifax (Game 4) – 5 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Vancouver (Game 3) – 8 p.m.