Both teams may have treated it like just another Tuesday night regular season game in the Western Hockey League.
However, the memories of last year’s Ed Chynoweth Cup were still in the minds of those with the Prince Albert Raiders and the Vancouver Giants as they squared off for the first time since last year’s Game 7 overtime decider at the Art Hauser Centre.
“During the last five to 10 minutes, it started to feel a lot like last year,” Raiders defenceman Kaiden Guhle said. “This was a big game, especially with the guys that were back from a year ago, and we’re happy to get the win.”
Guhle was the hero in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory for the hosts as he fired home a power-play goal with 1:28 to go in the third period and with 30 seconds left in a four-minute double minor boarding penalty that Giants forward Justin Sourdif received for a hit on new Raiders import forward Daniil Stepanov.
“I think we had the puck in their zone for about three minutes of that power play and we had a feeling that we would get one in there with how well we were playing at that point,” Guhle said.
“That was obviously a key moment in the game,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid added. “We kept them hemmed in their end by grinding it out and we found a way to get the puck in after a good screen in front.”
Aliaksei Protas had a goal and two assists to lead the way for the 5-0-2-0 Raiders, as they picked up their second straight victory.
Justin Nachbaur and Ilya Usau also scored in the triumph, while Carter Serhyenko made 25 saves to pick up the win in his first career WHL start.
“There were some nerves this morning, but they all went away once I got into my pre-game routine,” Serhyenko said.
“It was really exciting to be out there and it was a great team win. Everyone was playing well tonight and the guys blocked a lot of shots to help me out.”
Jackson Shepard and Sourdif found the back of the net for the 4-4 Giants, who will continue their swing through the East Division on Wednesday night against the Saskatoon Blades.
“I think we were pretty solid for the majority of the game, but we just had a couple of late penalties that cost us,” Giants blueliner Bowen Byram said.
“There’s a lot of positives that we can take out of this though. Prince Albert is a good team with a lot of fast players and I felt like we kept up with them throughout the night.”
David Tendeck turned aside 22 shots as he suffered his first loss of the season.
The Raiders will be in action at the Art Hauser Centre Friday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes before they conclude their six-game homestand on Saturday by taking on the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Both games will get underway at 7 p.m.
Four Raiders Ranked by NHL Central Scouting
A quartet of 2002-born Prince Albert Raiders have been deemed as ones that are worth keeping an eye out for ahead of the 2020 National Hockey League Draft.
Blueliners Kaiden Guhle and Landon Kosior, along with forwards Jakob Brook and Ozzy Wiesblatt, were all listed by NHL Central Scouting in their preliminary Players to Watch list that was released on Monday.
Guhle, who has six points in seven games, was given an ‘A’ rating and is projected to be a first round draft choice.
Wiesblatt, who has eight points in six games, has a ‘B’ rating and is projected to be a second or third round pick.
Brook, who has three assists in five games, and Kosior, who has a goal in seven contests, are slated to be picked between the fourth and sixth rounds with their ‘C’ ratings.
Kosior is in his rookie season in the WHL after spending two years with the SMAAAHL’s Tisdale Trojans, while the rest of the quartet are in their sophomore campaigns.
Brandon Wheat Kings blueliner and Prince Albert product Braden Schneider was also given an ‘A’ rating, as were defenceman Daemon Hunt of the Moose Jaw Warriors and forward Justin Sourdif of the Giants.
Kamloops Blazers forward Josh Pillar, who played for the Prince Albert Mintos during the 2017-18 season, was given a ‘C’ rating, as was former Raider and current Prince George Cougars blueliner Rhett Rhinehart.
A total of 26 players were projected as first round candidates for the draft, which will be held in Montreal on June 26 and 27, 2020.
Forwards Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic and Quinton Byfield of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves are currently considered to be the top two prospects available.
Jamie Drysdale of the OHL’s Erie Otters and Yaroslav Askarov of Russia’s SKA-Neva St. Petersburg program are expected to be the first blueliner and netminder to have their names called on draft day.
Tuesday’s win for the Raiders snapped a four-game losing streak in the regular season to the Giants, with their last victory coming in a 5-4 shootout contest at the Art Hauser Centre on Oct. 2, 2015.
Carter Serhyenko is the first Raiders netminder to get a win in his first career WHL start since Brett Balas, who made 20 saves in a 5-3 road win over the Regina Pats on Jan. 1, 2019.
Balas had previously picked up his first career WHL victory in a relief role on Dec. 15, 2018 as he stopped seven shots over the final 34 minutes in a 7-5 affair against the Swift Current Broncos.
Ozzy Wiesblatt and Brayden Watts both recorded assists in Tuesday’s contest to extend their point streaks to five games.
That matches the career high for both players, with Wiesblatt reaching that mark from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1, 2018, while Watts had five game streaks from Sept. 23 to Oct. 10, 2017 and from Sept. 30 to Oct. 12, 2018.
Thanks to his three-point night, Aliaksei Protas moved into second place in WHL scoring with 11 point, which is one back of Everett Silvertips forward Bryce Kindopp.
The Raiders did not dress Balas, Braydon Clark and Tyson Laventure, while the Giants scratched Braedy Euerby, Cole Shepard and Lukas Svejkovsky.
- Medicine Hat 4 Portland 2 (Brett Kemp – One Goal and One Assist)
- Edmonton 5 Regina 3 (Austin Pratt – One Goal and One Assist)
- Calgary 5 Portland 2 (Jett Woo – One Goal and One Assist)
- Moose Jaw 3 Regina 0 (Bailey Brkin – 19 Saves – Second Shutout This Season and Fifth Career)
- Brandon 5 Saskatoon 4 (Luke Burzan Shootout Winner – Ridly Greig – Two Goals)
- Everett 4 Spokane 3 (Bryce Kindopp – Two Goals and One Assist)
Friday’s matchup between the Raiders and Hurricanes is the first of the season between the two sides, with Prince Albert taking three out of four meetings last year.
Lethbridge prevented a Raiders sweep of the season series with a 5-4 overtime victory at the Art Hauser Centre on Feb. 27, 2019 in the last matchup between the Eastern Conference clubs.
The Hurricanes, who are coming off of a 4-2 home win over the Portland Winterhawks last Friday, are in fifth place in the Central Division with a 3-2-0-1 mark and are tied with the Saskatoon Blades for the second and final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Rookie forward Jacob Boucher is the only player sidelined for the Hurricanes as he underwent season-ending surgery for an upper-body injury he suffered on Sept. 21 against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Former Raiders forward D-Jay Jerome could make his first appearance at the Art Hauser Centre since being traded to the Victoria Royals on Jan. 4, 2018 for Jeremy Masella.
After putting up a career high 42 points in 68 games with the Royals last year, Jerome was dealt to his hometown Hurricanes this summer and has four points in six games.
Prince Albert Mintos alumni Logan Barlage has a goal and an assist in four games for the Hurricanes this season.
- Edmonton vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Saskatoon – 7 p.m.
- Portland vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Everett vs. Victoria – 8 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Brandon – 6:30 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Lethbridge vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
- Portland vs. Red Deer – 7 p.m.
- Winnipeg vs. Medicine Hat – 7:30 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Spokane – 8 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Tri-City – 8 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Everett – 8:30 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Seattle – 8:30 p.m.