A late third period rally wasn’t enough to overcome an early deficit as the Prince Albert Raiders fell 4-3 to the Saskatoon Blades in WHL pre-season action.
The Blades jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and never looked back during the annual exhibition meeting between the two teams in Warman. Brett Balas stopped 21 shots for the Raiders in a losing cause while Ethan Chadwick make 39 saves for Saskatoon to earn the win.
“It was kind of a hard-nosed game, especially for the second game into pre-season,” said veteran Spencer Moe, one of three Raiders to tally on the night. “I believe this was a good growing game, especially with all the players that we got and players coming back soon. There’s a lot we can take out of this game.”
Goals from Hayden Smith and Ryan Hughes gave Saskatoon a 2-0 first period lead. Kyle Crnkovic then made it 3-0 when he deposited a beautiful cross-ice feed past a sprawling Balas with less than three minutes left in the frame.
The Raiders got a break midway through the second when Blades winger Randen Schmidt received a five-minute major for spearing, plus a game misconduct. Ozzy Wiesblatt made the Blades pay when he converted a cross-crease feed from Justin Nachbaur two minutes later.
However, the Blades regained their three-goal lead when Crnkovic scored his second of the night with 15.5 seconds to go in the period. The Raiders outshot the Blades 13-7 in the period, but were unable to close the gap.
“I thought we kind of struggled at the start,” Raiders winger Cole Nagy said. “But we got it going in the third period.”
Prince Albert made it 4-2 seven minutes into the final period when Nagy put home a loose puck after Loeden Schaufler’s point shot was partially blocked. Moe then made it 4-3 roughly four minutes later on a wrap-around.
“I just took a turn on the right side of the zone there, beat my man, and then gave a pass to (winger Eric) Pearce right in front of the slot there,” Moe said. “The rebound popped into my skates. Then I just wrapped it and shot it up high there.”
“The got puck got shot off the pad and then I saw it kind of pop out,” Nagy said when asked about his goal. “I just tried to shoot as fast as I can and luckily enough it went in.”
Friday’s game was the first exhibition loss for the Raiders. They’ll resume pre-season play on Saturday when they travel to Moose Jaw to take on the Warriors. Puck drop is 7 p.m.
Prince Albert’s next home exhibition contest is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14 against the Regina Pats. The Raiders open the season at home on Friday, Sept. 20 against the Saskatoon Blades.
Friday’s pre-season affair was the first of any sort in the WHL for Chadwick, a Saskatoon product who was a third round pick by the Blades in May’s WHL Bantam Draft.
Brandon Lisowsky, who was the ninth overall pick in that draft, recorded three assists for a Blades side that also had Prince Albert products Alex Ozar and Marek Schneider on the blueline.
The Raiders dressed the exact same lineup as they did on Wednesday, with blueliners Nolan Allan, Zack Hayes, Brayden Pachal and Max Martin being scratched, along with forwards Jakob Brook, Cohner Saleski, Aliaksei Protas and Cole Fonstad.
Goaltender Koen MacInnes, blueliners Radek Kucerik, Libor Zabransky, Scott Walford, Nolan Kneen and Charlie Wright did not dress for the Blades, in addition to forwards Eric Florchuk, Riley McKay, Chase Wouters and Sammy May.
Although he isn’t listed on the pre-season roster, Kirby Dach was also not with the Blades as he’s currently vying to make the Chicago Blackhawks after being picked third overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Friday’s Pre-Season Scores
- Portland 4 Spokane 3 (Simon Knak – Two Assists)
- Kamloops 7 Prince George 1 (Orrin Centazzo – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Brandon 5 Winnipeg 0 (Ethan Kruger and Connor Ungar – Combined 35-Save Shutout – Vincent Iorio – Three Assists)
- Edmonton 3 Calgary 1 (Riley Sawchuk – Two Assists)
- Red Deer 3 Lethbridge 2 (Josh Tarzwell – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Seattle 6 Tri-City 1 (Payton Mount – Three Goals)
- Vancouver 3 Victoria 2 (Tristen Nielsen – Three Goals)
Thursday’s Pre-Season Scores
- Regina 3 Swift Current 2 (Ty Kolle Shootout Winner – Max Paddock – 25 Saves)
- Tri-City 5 Portland 3 (Connor Bouchard – Two Goals)
Saturday’s Pre-Season Schedule
- Kamloops vs. Victoria – 12 p.m. (in Langley, B.C.)
- Portland vs. Seattle – 4 p.m. (in Kennewick, Wash.)
- Kelowna vs. Everett – 4:30 p.m. (in Langley, B.C.)
- Brandon vs. Winnipeg – 6 p.m. (in Portage La Prairie, Man.)
- Edmonton vs. Calgary – 7 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Lethbridge – 7 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Vancouver – 8 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Tri-City – 8 p.m.