Penalty troubles sink Raiders in Seattle

The Prince Albert Raiders found themselves in penalty trouble early and often on Tuesday as the Seattle Thunderbirds handed them their first regulation loss of the season.

Brayden Watts had the lone goal for the Raiders, who gave the hometown Thunderbirds seven power play opportunities, including two different five-on-three chances, on route to a 3-1 defeat.

“That was probably our worst game of the year,” Raiders coach Marc Habscheid said afterwards. “We were just in quicksand all night. Our passing was off. It was an all around not very good game.”

The Thunderbirds got on the board first when penalties to Kaiden Guhle and Justin Nachbaur just 24 seconds apart gave the hosts their first five-on-three opportunity. Defenceman Simon Kubicek cashed in on the power play with a blast from the point to make it 1-0.

The Thunderbirds put even more pressure on the Raiders in the early part of the second, forcing goalie Boston Bilous to make a number of tough saves in the opening five minutes. Then, penalties to Jeremy Masella and Zach Hayes gave Seattle another 34 seconds of five-on-three power play time.

Lucas Ciona batted home a rebound just eight seconds after the last penalty expired to make it 2-0.

The Raiders took 18 minutes in minor penalties during the contest, including three for delay of game. However, Habscheid said the struggles went beyond penalties.

“I mean, we had three where we shot it over the glass,” he said. “That says enough right there.”

The Thunderbirds had lost four in a row entering Tuesday’s contest, including the last three in either overtime or shootouts. Watts’ power play goal, off a nice cross-ice feed from Ozzy Wiesblatt, had hometown fans worried that trend might continue.

However, a roughing penalty to Zach Hayes, who crushed Seattle’s Matthew Wedman behind Prince Albert’s net with just 1:41 remaining, dimmed any prospect of a comeback. Andrej Kukuca completely extinguished it with an empty-netter in the games final seconds.

Roddy Ross stopped 24 shots to earn the win for Seattle, while Boston Bilous made 31 saves in the Prince Albert goal.

“He played well, but he’s probably one of the few,” Habscheid said when asked about the Raider netminder. “We were just skating in mud all night.”

The Raiders will try to earn victory number one on their U.S. road trip on Wednesday when they take on the Winterhawks in Portland at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Puck drop is 7 p.m.

Post-Game Notes

Raiders forward Ilya Usau did not record a point in Tuesday’s contest, which brought an end to his five-game point streak.

Lucas Ciona’s second period marker was the first of his WHL career, while blueliner Ryan Gottfried recorded his first point as a member of the Thunderbirds on the play as he earned an assist.

Cole Nagy and Tyson Laventure did not dress for the Raiders on Tuesday, while the Thunderbirds scratched Cade McNelly, Hunter Donohoe, Tyler Carpendale, Mekai Sanders, Alex Morozoff and Matthew Rempe.

Rookie blueliner Nolan Allan found out on Monday that he will playing for Canada Red at the upcoming World Under-17 Hockey Championship, which runs from Nov. 2-9.

All of Canada Red’s round-robin games will be held in Swift Current, with their first contest taking place on Saturday. Nov. 2 against Russia.

The Raiders made a minor trade Monday as they dealt the rights to goaltender Donovan Buskey to the Regina Pats for the rights to netminder Matthew Pesenti.

Pesenti, who is an 18-year-old from Saskatoon and will stay with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers, has a 3-1 record with a 2.43 goals against average and a .927 save percentage in his rookie campaign in Junior A.

Buskey, a 19-year-old from North Vancouver, joins the Pats after starting the season with a 3-4 record, a 3.78 goals against average and an .862 save percentage for the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters.

He posted a 9-1 record with a 3.15 goals against average and a .870 save percentage for the Raiders last year before he was sent down to the BCHL at the trade deadline.

Tuesday’s Scores

  • Swift Current 7 Prince George 2 (Joona Kiviniemi – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Lethbridge 4 Red Deer 3 (Brett Davis – Three Assists)
  • Brandon 10 Tri-City 2 (Lynden McCallum – Two Goals and One Assist)

Sunday’s Scores

  • Calgary 6 Medicine Hat 3 (Mark Kastelic – Two Goals)
  • Victoria 3 Vancouver 1 (Sean Gulka – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Winnipeg 7 Saskatoon 2 (Brad Ginnell – Two Goals and Two Assists – Matthew Savoie records his first WHL point with an assist)

Around the WHL

Former Prince Albert Raiders bench boss Cory Clouston is back in the WHL as he was named as a full-time interim assistant coach with the Kamloops Blazers on Monday.

Clouston, who was the head coach for the Raiders from June 2013 until October 2014 when he was replaced by Marc Habscheid, will be joining his brother Shaun in Kamloops as he fills in for associate coach Darryl Sydor as he takes a personal leave of absence.

Following his stint in Prince Albert, Clouston was the head coach for Kolner Hale in Germay from January 2016 to November 2017.

Blake Allan, who is the older brother of Raiders rookie blueliner Nolan, was traded by the Regina Pats to the Calgary Hitmen on Tuesday for a conditional eighth round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.

The 18-year-old forward has no points in eight games this season and posted six points in 61 contests last year with the Kootenay Ice and the Pats.

Pre-Game Notes

Following a 4-1 home win over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday, the Winterhawks find themselves in second place in the US Division with a 6-3-0-1 record.

Former Prince Albert Mintos forward Kishaun Gervais has suited up in two games for the Winterhawks this season, but has yet to record a point in his rookie campaign in the WHL.