Friday’s clash between two of the top sides in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference went in favour of the Prince Albert Raiders.
Although the Lethbridge Hurricanes were able to tie things up at three in the second period, Daniil Stepanov’s goal at the 6:10 mark of the final frame moved the defending league champions back in front as they came away with a 5-3 triumph at the Enmax Centre.
“I thought we played we well in the first and third periods, but in the second I don’t think we competed like we could have,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We started being turnover machines, which gave Lethbridge some momentum, and we took a couple of bad penalties that let them back into the game.
“In the third period, we got back to playing winning hockey, which is very different than any other type of hockey. It’s about making little plays to win and not just to get points. Obviously, the guys want to score and get points, but those things come from playing the right way. If you do that, the points will take care of themselves.”
Washington Capitals prospect Aliaksei Protas potted a pair of goals in the triumph, as the WHL’s scoring leader extended his point streak to six games.
Kaiden Guhle had a goal and an assist for the visitors, while Reece Vitelli dished out a pair of helpers.
“Reece was a force tonight,” Habscheid said. “He had an assist on the winning goal and came up with a few key blocks. He was doing the little things right out there.”
Ozzy Wiesblatt also found the back of the net for the Raiders, who improved their record to 16-4-3-1 and have won their last three games.
Boston Bilous turned aside 30 shots for his 14th victory of the season.
Rookie Zack Stringer and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Calen Addison each had a pair of assists for the 15-7-0-3 Hurricanes, who saw a two-game win streak come to an end Friday but are still tied for first place in the Central Division with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
D-Jay Jerome, Logan Barlage and Noah Boyko all scored for the hosts, who received a 22-save showing from Carl Tetachuk.
The league-leading Raiders, who now have a nine point cushion over the Winnipeg Ice in the East Division standings, will wrap up their three-game trip through Alberta Saturday night against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Friday’s win was the fourth straight for the Raiders in Lethbridge, as their last road loss to the Hurricanes came in a 4-1 contest on Oct. 6, 2017.
Thanks to finding the net on two occasions, Protas moved into a tie with Hurricanes import forward Oliver Okuliar for the league’s goal scoring lead with 17 markers.
Lethbridge blueliner Alex Cotton, who is the top scoring blueliner in the WHL at the moment with 25 points in 25 games, saw his eight-game point streak come to an end Friday.
Eric Pearce and Cole Nagy did not dress for the Raiders, while the Hurricanes scratched Jacob Boucher, Joe Arntsen, Dino Kambeitz and Nick Dorrington.
- Calgary 4 Brandon 3 (Carson Focht Overtime Winner – Orca Wiesblatt – Two Goals)
- Everett 6 Saskatoon 1 (Ronan Seeley – Four Assists)
- Medicine Hat 3 Moose Jaw 1 (James Hamblin – One Goal and One Assist)
- Prince George 4 Kamloops 3 (Taylor Gauthier – 41 Saves)
- Kelowna 3 Seattle 2 (Dillon Hamaliuk – Two Goals)
- Regina 6 Swift Current 0 (Robbie Holmes – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick – Max Paddock – 25 Saves – First Shutout This Season and Third Career)
- Winnipeg 3 Tri-City 2 (Isaac Johnson Overtime Winner – Jackson Leppard – Two Assists)
- Victoria 5 Edmonton 3 (Phillip Schultz – Three Goals – First Hat Trick This Season and Second Career)
Saturday’s contest will be the first of the campaign between the Tigers and the Raiders.
Prince Albert won all four meetings over Medicine Hat last season and have also picked up victories in their last four trips to the Canalta Centre.
The Tigers improved to 15-7-1-0 on the season after a 3-1 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday and are only two points back of the Central Division leading Edmonton Oil Kings and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The top two scorers in the league will also be going head-to-head Saturday as Aliaksei Protas (36 points) will go up against James Hamblin (35 points).
Forward Bryan Lockner has missed the last three games for the Tigers after suffering a lower-body injury last Friday against the Red Deer Rebels.
- Calgary vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Regina vs. Brandon – 7:30 p.m.
- Everett vs. Portland – 8 p.m.
- Lethbridge vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Seattle – 8 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
- Edmonton vs. Vancouver – 9 p.m.
- Winnipeg vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.