Parker Kelly is someone that always has something to say.
However, the Prince Albert Raiders forward was having a tough time on Monday night as he tried to describe being a part of the team’s second championship winning side since joining the Western Hockey League in 1982.
“You watch those commercials of when guys win the Stanley Cup and they are absolutely speechless,” Kelly said. “This is our Stanley Cup and there are no words to describe it.
“This team has been through thick and thin together and the feeling we are going to have when we wake up tomorrow morning is going to be incredible.”
In what was just the second Game 7 overtime in the history of the Ed Chynoweth Cup, Dante Hannoun blew the roof off of the Art Hauser Centre as he tapped home a pass from his onetime Victoria Royals teammate Noah Gregor at the 18:25 mark of the extra frame to give the Raiders their first WHL title since 1985.
“I blacked out a couple of times during the celebration,” said Hannoun, who led the league in goals during the playoffs with 14. “This is incredible.”
“Dante’s done so much for this team since he came here in January from Victoria,” Raiders forward Brett Leason, who led the team in scoring on their run to the title with 25 points. “For him to get the winning goal, it’s something that you expect him to do in those clutch moments.”
Gregor had two goals and an assist to lead the offence for the Raiders, while Kelly dished out a pair of helpers.
“I didn’t have my best game last night (in Game 6) so I knew that I had to bounce back if I was going to help our team win tonight,” Gregor said.
“When I joined these guys in October (after being sent down by the San Jose Sharks) I thought we had a chance to do make a good run. I’m so proud of this group of guys. They’ve been unbelievable all season.”
It was also an unforgettable night for those who got a ticket to Monday’s title decider, as it marked the first series win at the Art Hauser Centre for the Raiders since they beat the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2005 quarter-final round and the first championship the team had won on home ice since the 1982 Centennial Cup when they competed in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The victory also completed the Raiders longest playoff run since a trip to the Eastern Conference final in 2005, which was the last time that the team had won a post-season series prior to this season.
“To hear how excited everyone got when Dante scored was an amazing feeling,” Raiders captain Brayden Pachal said. “It was such a blur when that goal happened. I never saw the puck go in. There were gloves, helmets and sticks flying everywhere. It was mayhem.”
“The biggest thrill that I get out of this is just watching everyone celebrate,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid, who had previously won a title as a head coach of the Kelowna Rockets in 2003, added. “(Strength and conditioning coach) Terry Lange and (skills coach) Mark Odnokon have been here a long time and they were crying on the bench after the winning goal. You can see how much it means to everyone in this city.”
Scott Named WHL Playoff MVP
A 24-save showing by Raiders netminder Ian Scott, which included a number of big stops in overtime, solidified his selection as the most valuable player of the 2019 post-season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect led the way among all goaltenders when it came to wins (16), goals against average (1.96), save percentage (.925) and shutouts (5).
He also had the best goals against average and the most shutouts in the entire Canadian Hockey League, in addition to being tied with Samuel Harvey of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Anthony Popovich of the Guelph Storm for the most wins in the playoffs.
“It’s great to get the award but I can’t do it without the guys in the room,” Scott said. “It’s not individual efforts that wins champions. It takes the whole team and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
In a campaign that saw him take home the WHL’s goaltender of the year award, earn a spot on Canada’s roster at the World Juniors, sign an entry level contract with the Maple Leafs and score a goal against the Tri-City Americans, Monday’s triumph was easily the highlight of the year for the 20-year-old from Calgary.
“We dreamed about booking our flights to Halifax for the Memorial Cup when the season started and now we’re here,” Scott said.
“There’s so much trust in our locker room and we knew that we could get this done. There was never a doubt in our minds when we got ready for overtime.”
Scott is the first netminder to be named the most valuable player of the WHL playoffs since Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2012.
Heartbreak for Vancouver
While the Raiders all chased after Hannoun, the Giants were in a state of shock as they came just one goal short of joining the 1981 Victoria Cougars as the only team to erase a 3-1 deficit in the league final.
“Obviously we’re all disappointed right now but I’m really proud of our group,” Giants head coach Michael Dyck said.
“The effort that our guys put in and how hard we competed in this series really shows just how far we’ve come as a team in the last year.”
Like the Raiders, the Giants have been waiting a long time for a chance to be in the mix for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, as they hadn’t won a playoff series since making it to the Western Conference final in 2010.
“For our guys that aren’t coming back, they’ve left a legacy for this team,” Dyck said. “It’s so important for our organization to have that winning culture and we’ve got some banners that we can hang up next year that we are extremely proud of.
“There’s also a foundation that’s here now for our younger guys who are coming back. This is a feeling that no one wants to go through, but our guys will be better because of it.”
Milos Roman had a pair of goals for the Giants, who received a 37-save performance from David Tendeck.
Draft eligible blueliner Bowen Byram picked up an assist in the second period for his 26th point of the post-season, as he became the first ever defenceman to lead the WHL playoffs in scoring.
There won’t be much time to rest for the Raiders as they will fly out to Halifax, N.S. on Wednesday to take part in the 2019 Memorial Cup, with their first game of the tournament taking place on Friday night against the host Mooseheads.
“I’m sure we’ll be practicing tomorrow,” Pachal joked. “Obviously we’re going to enjoy this for as long as we can, but that (the Memorial Cup) is our next step and we’ll begin to focus on that.”
“We have the belief in ourselves that we can bring a Memorial Cup back to Prince Albert,” Gregor added. “We’re not looking too far ahead as of yet, but we’re excited to have that opportunity.”
- Goals: Dante Hannoun (Prince Albert) – 14 (Raphael Lavoie – Halifax – 20)
- Assists: Bowen Byram (Vancouver) – 18 (Nick Suzuki – Guelph – 26)
- Points: Bowen Byram (Vancouver) – 26 (Nick Suzuki – Guelph – 42)
- Defensive Scoring: Bowen Byram (Vancouver) – 26 (Noah Dobson – Rouyn-Noranda – 29)
- Rookie Scoring: Aliaksei Protas (Prince Albert) – 22 (Marco Rossi – Ottawa – 22)
- Plus/Minus: Parker Kelly (Prince Albert) – 19 (Justin Bergeron (Rouyn-Noranda) and Noah Dobson (Rouyn-Noranda) – 28)
- Penalty Minutes: Riley McKay (Saskatoon) – 33 (Justin Murray – Saginaw – 42)
- Power Play Goals: Jadon Joseph (Vancouver), Jake Leschyshyn (Lethbridge), Vince Loschiavo (Edmonton) and Sean Montgomery (Prince Albert) – 4 (Adam Boqvist (London) and Tye Felhaber (Ottawa) – 8)
- Power Play Assists: Bowen Byram (Vancouver) – 9 (Evan Bouchard – London – 12)
- Game Winning Goals: Noah Gregor (Prince Albert), Dante Hannoun (Prince Albert) and Brett Leason (Prince Albert) – 4 (Felix Bibeau – Rouyn-Noranda – 5)
- Short Handed Goals: Trey Fix-Wolansky (Edmonton), James Hamblin (Medicine Hat) and Dante Hannoun (Prince Albert) – 2 (Kyle MacLean – Oshawa – 2)
- Short Handed Assists: Tyler Preziuso (Medicine Hat) – 2 (Mitchell Brewer – Oshawa – 2)
- Overtime Goals: Jake Neighbours (Edmonton) – 2 (Tye Felhaber – Ottawa – 2)
- Points Per Game: Brandon Hagel (Red Deer) – 1.50 (Evan Bouchard – London – 1.91)
- Shutouts: Ian Scott (Prince Albert) – 5
- Goals Against Average: Ian Scott (Prince Albert) – 1.96
- Rookie Goals Against Average: Mads Sogaard (Medicine Hat) – 3.16 (Carmine Anthony-Pagliarulo – Quebec – 3.10)
- Save Percentage: Ian Scott (Prince Albert) – .925 (Ivan Prosvetov – Saginaw – .930)
- Wins: Ian Scott (Prince Albert) – 16 (Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda) and Anthony Popovich (Guelph) – 16)
- Goals: Max Gerlach (Saskatoon), Noah Gregor (Prince Albert), Brett Leason (Prince Albert) and Luke Toporowski (Spokane) – 4 games (Gerlach, Leason and Toporowski had 5 goals each – Gregor had 4 goals) (Felix Bibeau (Rouyn-Noranda) and Owen Tippett (Saginaw) – 7 games – Bibeau had 10 goals and Tippett had 9 goals)
- Assists: Alex Kannok Leipert (Vancouver) – 5 games (5 assists) (Marco Rossi – Ottawa – 12 games – 14 assists)
- Points: Brett Leason (Prince Albert) and Aliaksei Protas (Prince Albert) – 8 games (Protas had 14 points – Leason had 13 points) (Joel Teasdale – Rouyn-Noranda – 16 games – 31 points)
Memorial Cup Schedule
- Friday, May 17 – Prince Albert vs. Halifax – 5 p.m.
- Saturday, May 18 – Rouyn-Noranda vs. Guelph – 1:30 p.m.
- Sunday, May 19 – Halifax vs. Guelph – 5 p.m.
- Monday, May 20 – Rouyn-Noranda vs. Prince Albert – 5 p.m.
- Tuesday, May 21 – Guelph vs. Prince Albert – 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 22 – Halifax vs. Rouyn-Noranda – 5 p.m.
- Thursday, May 23 – Tiebreaker Game (if needed) – 5 p.m.
- Friday, May 24 – Semifinal Game – 5 p.m.
- Sunday, May 26 – Championship Game – 5 p.m.