It took a little bit, but the Prince Albert Raiders were able to take care of the Regina Pats on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre.
After falling behind 2-1 in the second period, the defending WHL champions scored five times in the final frame on their way to a 6-3 triumph and their third straight victory.
“We wanted to have a good push there in the third period, especially after they got the lead late in the second,” Raiders forward Spencer Moe said. “It was a good push there from our veterans and we got the two points at the end.”
“Regina played well tonight and they made us work hard for this one,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid added. “We had to take this game away from them and we did that in the third.”
The Raiders also had to fight through some adversity in the early stages of the final frame, as Aliaksei Protas had a game-tying goal waved off after kicking the puck in while in the crease and Max Paddock somehow kept Brayden Watts’ attempt at a go-ahead goal from crossing the goal line.
“When you see those 50/50 goals not count after a review, it’s something that you can’t control,” Raiders forward Reece Vitelli said.
“We just told ourselves that the bounces would come our way and that’s what happened.”
Vitelli put the Raiders out in front for good with 10:55 to go in the third period as he converted a feed from Ozzy Wiesblatt for his first goal with the team since being acquired from the Everett Silvertips on Oct. 13.
“Reece is a pretty smart kid,” Habscheid said. “We do thing a little bit differently than Everett, but he’s a speedster and I think that extra bit of movement will help him out here.”
Moe had two goals and an assist for the Raiders, who improved their record to 10-2-3-0.
Protas had a goal and two helpers in the triumph, while Ilya Usau continued his strong play with a three-assist night.
Watts and Wiesblatt each had a goal and an assist for the hosts, who received a 23-save performance for Boston Bilous.
Logan Nijhoff scored twice for the 2-11-1-0 Pats as they lost their second straight game ahead of a home date with the Red Deer Rebels on Sunday.
Drew Englot picked up his first career goal in the loss, which saw Paddock make 35 saves.
The Raiders will head out on the road Saturday for a date with the Moose Jaw Warriors before they head to Alberta for a pair of games.
They will take on the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday and the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday in their first two meetings of the year with the Central Division sides.
“Edmonton and Calgary are both really good teams and I think we will learn a lot from playing them, which should help us as we go further into the season,” Hayes said.
Their next home game will be on Friday, Nov. 8 against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The returning members of last year’s Ed Chynoweth Cup winning side received a keepsake for their efforts Friday as they were presented with their championship rings.
“Parker (Kelly) and Brayden (Pachal) did an excellent job of designing those rings, which is surprising considering the number of brain cells that both of them have,” Zack Hayes joked. “They did a great job and we were excited to finally get them tonight.”
“I still don’t have the words for it still and I remember that last game like it was yesterday,” Spencer Moe added. “It’s nice to have those rings after a bit of a wait.”
Hayes received his ring from Raiders president Gord Broda in a pre-game presentation, while the rest of the returning players got their hardware during a post-game ceremony in the Ches Leach Lounge.
Thanks to his three-point night, Aliaksei Protas moved into a tie with Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens in league scoring with 22 points, which is one marker back of Moose Jaw Warriors forward Ryder Korczak.
Ilya Usau’s three-assist night moved him into a tie with Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers for the second most helpers by a rookie this year with nine.
The pair are one assist behind league leader Pavel Novak of the Kelowna Rockets.
Logan Nijhoff’s two-goal night allowed him to extend his point streak to five games, which is the best run of form in his WHL career.
Caiden Daley, who has acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday, recorded an assist in his Pats debut.
Nolan Allan and Cole Nagy did not dress for the Raiders, while the Pats scratched Danton Belluk, Jake Johnson, Sloan Stanick and Cale Sanders.
- Brandon 5 Swift Current 0 (Nolan Ritchie – Two Goals and One Assist – Ethan Kruger – 24 Saves – First Career Shutout)
- Edmonton 4 Saskatoon 3 (Josh Williams – Two Goals)
- Portland 4 Everett 1 (Seth Jarvis – One Goal and One Assist)
- Kelowna 6 Prince George 2 (Pavel Novak – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick)
- Moose Jaw 5 Red Deer 2 (Brayden Tracey – Four Goals – Second Hat Trick This Season, Fourth in His Career and Second in a Row)
- Tri-City 5 Seattle 2 (Kyle Olson – Two Assists)
- Lethbridge 8 Winnipeg 2 (Oliver Okuliar – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick)
Saturday’s meeting at Mosaic Place is the second of the year between the Saskatchewan-based sides, with the Raiders winning a wild 8-4 affair on Oct. 12 in Prince Albert.
Following a 5-2 triumph over the Red Deer Rebels Friday, the 7-6-1-0 Warriors are on a two-game win streak and are tied with the Winnipeg Ice for third place in the East Division.
Forward Ryder Korczak, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen at the 2019 WHL Draft as part of the Jett Woo trade, leads the league in points with 23 and in assists with 17.
The Warriors also feature the hottest player in the WHL at the moment, as Anaheim Ducks first round pick Brayden Tracey has recorded back-to-back hat tricks and has 16 points in eight games.
Goaltender Adam Evanoff made his return to the Warriors lineup on Friday after undergoing off-season hip surgery and turned aside 36 shots from the Rebels.
Around the WHL
Former Prince Albert Mintos goaltender Carter Woodside has joined the Prince George Cougars on a three-game tryout and was the backup to Jacob Herman in a 6-2 loss to the Kelowna Rockets Friday.
The Cougars are currently without starter Taylor Gauthier, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury, while Tyler Brennan is with Canada White at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Woodside is playing with the KIJHL’s Princeton Posse and made 24 saves in a 2-1 overtime win over the Columbia Valley Rockets on Oct. 26 in his season debut.
- Lethbridge vs. Brandon – 6:30 p.m.
- Swift Current vs. Winnipeg – 6:30 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Calgary – 7 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Seattle vs. Portland – 7 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Everett – 8 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Spokane – 8 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Tri-City – 8 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Victoria – 8 p.m.