A run of five straight victories for the Prince Albert Raiders came to an end on Wednesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Orca Wiesblatt broke a 2-2 tie with 1:22 to go in the third period for the Calgary Hitmen as they came away with a 4-2 triumph over the defending Western Hockey League champions.
Although the game came down to the final minutes, Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid felt that the team’s showing wasn’t anywhere near what they had shown in their last two wins against the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Edmonton Oil Kings.
“We didn’t play very good tonight,” Habscheid said. “We didn’t have any jump. We were ragged. We had too many turnovers and too many passengers out there.
“It’s a lesson learned for the guys and I’m sure they’ll be eating a little bit of humble pie after that one.”
The Raiders had a chance to take the lead late in the game when Hitmen blueliner Jett Woo was called for interference, but they were unable to capitalize on the power play.
Moments after the Hitmen went back to full strength, Josh Prokop worked his way into the offensive zone and was stopped by Boston Bilous.
However, Wiesblatt was at the side of the net to put home the rebound and move the hosts out in front for good.
Wiesblatt, who is the older brother of Raiders forward Ozzy, had a pair of goals for the Hitmen as they snapped a three-game losing streak.
Blueliner Luke Prokop dished out a pair of helpers in the triumph, which saw Egor Zamula and Jonas Peterek find the back of the net.
Rookie netminder Brayden Peters turned aside 26 shots to help his team improve to 9-5-1.
Spencer Moe and Evan Herman lit the lamp for the visitors, while Bilous made 28 saves.
Moe, who is on a career high five-game point streak, is off to the best start of his four-year stint with the Raiders as he has 18 points in 18 games to sit fourth in team scoring.
“It’s all confidence,” Habscheid said of Moe’s offensive outburst. “When you have that going, everything else comes with it.”
The 12-3-3-0 Raiders, who are now in a three-way tie with the Oil Kings and the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the most points in the league with 27, will return to the Art Hauser Centre this weekend to face the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday and the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday.
Both contests will get underway at 7 p.m.
Wednesday’s win for the Hitmen snapped a five-game losing streak against the Raiders, with their last triumph coming in a 4-3 overtime affair in Calgary on Jan. 21, 2018.
Aliaksei Protas saw his six-game point streak come to an end in the loss, but he still holds a two-point advantage over Hurricanes forwards Oliver Okuliar and Dylan Cozens for the league scoring lead.
Ozzy Wiesblatt and Brayden Watts were also held without a point on Wednesday, which brought an end to their five-game streaks.
Nolan Allan and Tyson Laventure did not dress for the Raiders on Thursday, while the Hitmen scratched Evan Toth, Riley Fiddler-Schultz, Sean Tschigerl and former Prince Albert Minto Cael Zimmerman.
Around the WHL
It was a busy last two days on the import front with a number of deals taking place.
The first move came on Tuesday evening as the Swift Current Broncos dealt 17-year-old Finnish forward Joona Kiviniemi to the Vancouver Giants for 18-year-old Russian forward Sergei Alkhimov and a sixth round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
Kiviniemi, who had 25 points in 62 games last year, led the Broncos in scoring at the time of the trade with 10 points in 15 games.
Alkhimov had one assist in 16 games for the Giants after posting 27 points in 66 games with the Regina Pats last season.
The Saskatoon Blades made a pair of trades Wednesday as they dealt 19-year old Czech blueliner Libor Zabransky to the Moose Jaw Warriors for a seventh round pick in 2020 and acquired 18-year-old Czech forward Matej Toman from the Prince George Cougars for a sixth round pick in 2021.
Zabransky, who had spent a year-and-a-half with the Kelowna Rockets before finishing last season with the USHL’s Fargo Force, had six points in 16 games for the Blades after being chosen by them in June’s CHL Import Draft.
Toman also has six points in 16 games this season and had 20 points in 66 contests during his rookie campaign in Prince George.
The Cougars also welcomed back their leading scorer from last season as 20-year-old Belarusian forward Vladislav Mikhalchuk returned to the club Wednesday.
After posting 50 points in 68 games during the 2018-19 campaign, Mikhalchuk signed with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL but only played in one game for the side.
In a non-import transaction, the Warriors waived overage netminder Bailey Brkin on Wednesday as starter Adam Evanoff is now back with the team after missing the start of the year following off-season hip surgery.
The 20-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta. posted a 6-6-1 record with a 3.81 goals against average and an .889 save percentage in Moose Jaw.
He also had a pair of shutouts with the Warriors, which has him in a tie for the league lead with Vancouver’s David Tendeck, Everett’s Dustin Wolf and Prince Albert’s Boston Bilous.
- Victoria 6 Kelowna 3 (Kaid Oliver – Three Assists)
- Lethbridge 4 Swift Current 1 (D-Jay Jerome – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Medicine Hat 5 Prince George 4 (James Hamblin – Two Goals)
- Winnipeg 5 Red Deer 3 (Brad Ginnell – Two Goals)
World Under-17 Hockey Challenge
Raiders blueliner Nolan Allan and his Canada Red team will return to action Thursday night in Swift Current as they’ll face Canada White in a quarter-final game at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Following a 4-2 loss to Sweden on Monday, Canada Red bounced back with a 7-2 win over Finland on Tuesday to finish second in Group B play.
Allan has dressed in all three games for his team, but has yet to record a point.
Swift Current will also host a quarter-final contest between the Czech Republic and Sweden, while Medicine Hat will see Finland face the United States and Canada Black taking on Russia.
The semifinals will be held on Friday, with the medal round and placement games taking place on Saturday.
Canada Russia Series
Saskatoon Blades forward Chase Wouters and Edmonton Oil Kings forward Josh Williams have been added to the Team WHL roster for Games 5 and 6 of the 2019 Canada Russia Series, which will take place in Saskatoon and Prince Albert next Wednesday and Thursday.
They are replacing Kirby Dach, who has made the jump from the Blades to the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL, and Peyton Krebs, who has yet to return to the Winnipeg Ice’s lineup after suffering an off-season Achilles injury.
After the QMJHL squad and Russia split their games earlier this week, the series will resume on Thursday night when the OHL team takes to the ice in Kitchener.