Guhle dominant as Raiders blank Pats

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Kaiden Guhle and Regina Pats forward Robbie Holmes keep an eye on the puck at the Art Hauser Centre earlier this season.

With a bigger role in this year’s edition of the Prince Albert Raiders, sophomore blueliner Kaiden Guhle is getting more of a chance to show what he can do.

The top overall pick in the 2017 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft put together the best performance of his major junior hockey career at the Art Hauser Centre Saturday as he scored a goal and assisted on three others in a 6-0 triumph over the Regina Pats.

“It was kind of a weird game as the points kind of just came to me,” Guhle said. “My teammates made things pretty easy out there and it was good to have a solid night, but it was more important for us to get the win.”

“He’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders this year (as he’s projected to be a first round pick at the 2020 NHL Draft) so it’s nice to see Kaiden put some points on the board,” Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt said. “He had a really good game today.”

Although Guhle was tied for seventh among rookie blueliners in the WHL last season with 17 points in 65 games, the 2018-19 campaign was a learning year for the Sherwood Park, Alta. product as he found out what it took to play in the league.

“The chance to watch guys like Brayden (Pachal), Zack (Hayes), Max (Martin) and Sergei (Sapego) was huge for me,” Guhle said. “I got to see how they did things and I tried to take in as much as I could from them.”

“He was a healthy scratch a couple of times last year and he played limited minutes, but he never complained once,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “That’s a real testament to his character. He trusted the process and now he’s ready to be in a bigger role and play in all situations.”

It was a dominant performance from start to finish for the 4-0-2-0 Raiders as they handed the Pats their fifth straight loss.

Hayes, Wiesblatt and Brayden Watts had a goal and an assist each, while Eric Pearce and Justin Nachbaur also lit the lamp.

“The hockey gods evened things up after last night and we got the bounces in this one,” said Habscheid, who was referencing Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Saskatoon Blades.

“I still don’t think we are firing on all cylinders yet and we have a few guys that can get going still on offence, but I’m not going to complain too much after a 6-0 win.”

Although he wasn’t tested often, Boston Bilous turned aside all 13 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season, which moved him into a tie for the league lead with David Tendeck of the Vancouver Giants.

“Boston’s been huge for us so far,” Guhle said. “He’s a great goaltender and it’s good to see him finally get a chance to play on a regular basis.”

Danton Belluk got the start in goal for the visitors but was pulled after allowing five goals on 19 shots in 32 minutes of work.

Max Paddock made 10 saves in the final 27 minutes for the 1-5 Pats, who will pay a visit to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Sunday.

The Raiders will continue their six-game homestand Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they’ll face the Giants for the first time since last year’s Ed Chynoweth Cup final.

“It’ll be pretty cool to go up against them again, especially now that Brayden (Watts) is part of our team,” Wiesblatt said. “I’m sure the fans will be into it and it should be a really fun game.”

Photo Courtesy of the Moose Jaw Warriors
Daniil Stepanov controls the puck during a game at Mosaic Place last season.

Saturday Night Import Moves

Shortly after the win over the Pats, the Raiders announced that they acquired 18-year-old Belarusian forward Daniil Stepanov from the Moose Jaw Warriors for a ninth round pick in the 2023 WHL Bantam Draft.

Stepanov, who is from Minsk, had eight goals and 11 assists in 68 games last season and has two assists in four games this year.

He also played with Aliaksei Protas and Ilya Usau at the 2018 World Under-18 Hockey Championship.

To get back down to two imports, the Raiders then waived 17-year-old Russian forward Ivan Kechkin, who made three appearances for the squad after being picked 60th overall in the 2019 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

In addition to dealing Stepanov, the Warriors also announced on Saturday that they had picked up blueliner David Homola from the Tri-City Americans through waivers.

The 18-year-old had an assist in two games for the Americans and also represented the Czech Republic at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

The Americans are now down to two import players with Czech forwards Jan Cikhart and Krystof Hrabik.

Post-Game Notes

Saturday’s shutout showing for the Raiders was their first against the Pats since Cole Cheveldave made 27 saves in a 4-0 win on Dec. 30, 2013 at the Brandt Centre.

The Pats were last held off of the scoreboard on March 13, 2019 when Isaac Poulter made 33 saves in a 3-0 win for the Swift Current Broncos.

Aliaksei Protas saw his six-game point streak come to an end on Saturday, but his teammates Evan Herman and Ilya Usau picked up their first career WHL assists on goals by Zack Hayes and Kaiden Guhle.

Brett Balas, Ivan Kechkin and Tyson Laventure did not dress for the Raiders, while the Pats scratched Nikita Sedov, Carter Massier and Cale Sanders.

Saturday’s Scores

  • Edmonton 2 Brandon 1 (Todd Scott – 39 Saves)
  • Everett 3 Kamloops 2 (Bryce Kindopp – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Red Deer 4 Medicine Hat 3 (Chris Douglas Overtime Winner – Ethan Anders – 39 Saves)
  • Prince George 4 Kelowna 1 (Tyler Brennan – 26 Saves)
  • Seattle 5 Victoria 3 (Conner Roulette – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Spokane 7 Tri-City 1 (Adam Beckman – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Vancouver 4 Winnipeg 0 (Jackson Shepard – Two Assists – David Tendeck – 36 Saves – Second Shutout This Season and Ninth Career)

Pre-Game Notes

In addition to being their first meeting since last year’s WHL final, Tuesday will mark the first time that the Giants have visited Prince Albert in the regular season since they picked up a 5-4 overtime win over the Raiders on Oct. 17, 2017.

The Giants have also won their last four regular season contests with the Raiders, with Prince Albert’s last win coming in a 5-4 shootout affair at the Art Hauser Centre on Oct. 2, 2015.

Following their 4-0 triumph over the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday, the Giants have a 4-3 record and are one point back of the Kelowna Rockets for first place in the BC Division.

Forward Justin Sourdif is tied with six other players for third in league scoring with nine points, while Seth Bafaro and Bowen Byram are tied with Red Deer’s Dawson Barteaux and Edmonton’s Wyatt McLeod for second place in points by a defenceman with six.

Arizona Coyotes prospect David Tendeck is off to an excellent start to the campaign as he’s posted a 3-0 record with a 0.33 goals against average, a .987 save percentage and two shutouts.

On the health front, forwards Cole Shepard and Lukas Svejkovsky are both currently sidelined with injuries.

Shepard, who played with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees last season and was committed to the NCAA’s Harvard Crimson before joining the Giants in July, has yet to play this year after undergoing off-season hip surgery.

Sunday’s Schedule

  • Portland vs. Calgary – 2 p.m.
  • Regina vs. Moose Jaw – 4 p.m.
  • Brandon vs. Saskatoon – 4 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Spokane – 6 p.m.

Tuesday’s Schedule

  • Portland vs. Medicine Hat – 7 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
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