Ozzy Wiesblatt was determined to prevent the Prince Albert Raiders from suffering their third straight loss Sunday evening at the Art Hauser Centre.
After falling behind 4-3 to the Calgary Hitmen late in the final frame, the sophomore forward tied things up with 2:16 to go in the third period and found the back of the net just 72 seconds into overtime as the Raiders came away with a 5-4 triumph.
“We didn’t like how we had been playing for the last couple of games,” Wiesblatt said. “This was a huge win for all of us as we want to prove to the coaching staff that we’re here to stay and we want to win a championship.
“This is a real tight group here and we all want to try and bail each other out when we are in trouble, so it was nice to be able to help the team out tonight.”
After Wiesblatt waltzed his way into the slot to knot things up at four, the sophomore forward completed his two-goal night by converting a feed from Spencer Moe, who had stolen the puck moments earlier from Ozzy’s older brother Orca.
“He was playing the right way tonight,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.
“Like a lot of guys right now, he was cheating a little bit, and that doesn’t work here for the Raiders. He was able to get a couple of big goals for us here, so the proof is in the pudding so to speak.”
Like it was a night earlier in a 4-3 road shootout loss to the Regina Pats, turnovers played a key part in the game as the Raiders coughed up the puck on a few occasions, with two of those plays leading to goals by Hitmen forwards Blake Allan and Adam Kydd.
“We made some glaring mistakes at times tonight and they all ended up in the back of our net,” Habscheid said.
“It’s tough sledding for us right now and wins aren’t coming easy. However, I thought we were more physical than we have been as of late and I liked our resiliency when Calgary got ahead of us.”
Brayden Watts had a pair of goals for the Raiders, who improved to 14-4-3-1 on the season.
Kaiden Guhle also found the back of the net and Boston Bilous made 15 saves.
Josh Prokop and Riley Stotts rounded out the scoring for the 10-6-2-1 Hitmen, while Brayden Peters turned aside 22 shots.
“It’s not the best outcome for us, but I think there’s a lot of good things that we can take away from this game,” Hitmen blueliner Jett Woo said.
“We’re moving our feet well and we’re moving the puck quickly, but we aren’t getting as many shots on net as we would like right now and that’s something I’m sure we will work on ahead of our game in Regina Wednesday.”
The Raiders are now heading out on the road for a three-game swing through Alberta, which begins Wednesday against the Red Deer Rebels.
They will then visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday and the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday.
“We just need to stick with what’s working best for us,” Wiesblatt said. “We need to keep being physical and not shy away from that part of the game.”
The Raiders have now won five straight games over the Hitmen at the Art Hauser Centre, with their last loss coming in a 5-4 overtime contest on Jan. 11, 2017.
Thanks to an assist on a third goal by Brayden Watts, Aliaksei Protas now has 32 points this season and moved into a tie for the league lead with James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Cael Zimmerman, James Malm, Carson Focht, Riley Fiddler-Schultz and Tye Carriere did not dress for the Hitmen, while the Raiders scratched Brayden Clark, Eric Pearce and Tyson Laventure.
Pearce, who left Saturday’s game with the Pats after being on the receiving end of a hit from Riley Krane, is currently day-to-day according to Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid.
- Brandon 5 Edmonton 4 (Luka Burzan Shootout Winner – Cole Reinhardt – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Everett 2 Spokane 0 (Dustin Wolf – 22 Saves – Third Shutout This Season and Fourteenth Career)
- Portland 4 Winnipeg 1 (Reece Newkirk – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Saskatoon 4 Moose Jaw 0 (Zach Huber – Two Goals – Koen MacInnes – 20 Saves – First Career Shutout)
- Lethbridge 6 Vancouver 0 (Zack Stringer – One Goal and One Assist – Carl Tetachuk – 17 Saves – Second Shutout This Season and Fourth Career)
- Swift Current vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
- Brandon vs. Medicine Hat – 8 p.m.
- Edmonton vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
- Kootenay vs. Seattle – 9 p.m.