Although there were some signs of rust after being off for almost a week, the Prince Albert Raiders were able to shake the cobwebs off as the clock wound down Friday night.
After being tied up at one with the Swift Current Broncos following the second period, the defending Western Hockey League champions scored three times in the final frame and held the Broncos to just four shots as they picked up a 4-1 win at the Art Hauser Centre.
“I thought we did well for a week off, especially at the start of the game,” Raiders forward Spencer Moe said. “We slipped up a little bit there in the second but I thought we did a good job of bouncing back in the third period after they tied things up.”
“You could tell at times that we were a little bit rusty, but you have to give Swift Current credit,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “They hung around and they gave themselves a chance. If they had been told that they would be all tied up going into the third, I’m sure they would have taken that.”
In his last home game before he and teammate Ilya Usau head to Belarus’ World Junior training camp, Aliaksei Protas turned in another impressive outing as he had a goal and two assists.
The Washington Capitals prospect now has 40 points in 26 games in his sophomore campaign and is tied with Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens for first place in WHL scoring.
“I’m just happy that I can help the team out in whatever way that I can,” Protas said. “I’m just trying my best on every shift and on every play.”
“He’s got more confidence and a better understanding of our systems after being here with the championship team last year and I think it shows,” Moe added. “He was able to sign a contract with Washington in the summer as a result of that, which is something that all of us are proud of.”
Brayden Watts had a goal and an assist each for the 17-5-3-1 Raiders, who also got goals from Cole Nagy and Moe.
Moe’s third period marker was one of the best of the season as he dangled around Broncos defender Kaleb Bulych and was able to regain control of a bouncing puck before wiring a backhanded shot underneath the cross bar.
“It’s Moe-vember,” Habscheid joked. “That’s all you need to say.
“It’s been his month and that’s great for him as he’s really been working hard.”
Boston Bilous turned aside 21 shots for the hosts, with his lone setback coming in the second period when Raphael Pelletier redirected a Jaxan Kaluski shot for his first career WHL goal.
Isaac Poulter made 33 saves for the Broncos, who saw their record fall to 6-14-1-2.
It won’t take long for the two sides to meet up again, as they’ll square off at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex in Swift Current tomorrow night.
“I think we didn’t play bad tonight, but we know that we can be better tomorrow in their rink,” Protas said.
“I think we need to play with a little more structure and we can also play faster out there. We were a little slow at times in the first two periods, but I thought we picked things up again in the third.”
The Raiders will be back at home next Friday night as the 2020 Memorial Cup host Kelowna Rockets will pay a visit to the Art Hauser Centre.
Thanks to his three-point night, Protas now has recorded a goal or an assist in his last eight game, which is the longest run of form in the WHL at the moment and the longest streak by a Raiders player this year.
Moe also has a point in five straight games thanks to his third period marker.
Friday’s win was the sixth in a row for the Raiders against the Broncos and it was their fifth straight over their provincial rival at the Art Hauser Centre.
Michael Horon and Tyson Laventure did not dress for the Raiders, while the Broncos scratched Billy Sowa, Jake Kustra, Chase Lacombe, Jordan Borysiuk, Garrett Sambrook and Tyler Smithies.
- Brandon 7 Winnipeg 4 (Cole Reinhardt – Three Goals and Two Assists – First Hat Trick This Season and Second Career)
- Calgary 4 Regina 1 (Mark Kastelic – Three Assists)
- Portland 2 Kamloops 1 (Seth Jarvis Shootout Winner – Joel Hofer – 34 Saves)
- Saskatoon 4 Lethbridge 3 (Kyle Crnkovic Shootout Winner – Nolan Maier – 40 Saves)
- Medicine Hat 6 Moose Jaw 0 (James Hamblin Two Goals and One Assists – Mads Sogaard – 15 Saves – Second Shutout This Season and Fifth Career)
- Vancouver 3 Spokane 2 (Tristen Nielsen Overtime Winner – Seth Bafaro – Two Assists)
- Victoria 3 Tri-City 1 (Gary Haden – One Goal and One Assist)
- Calgary vs. Edmonton – 3 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Brandon vs. Winnipeg – 7:30 p.m.
- Regina vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
- Portland vs. Kamloops – 9 p.m.
- Seattle vs. Everett – 9 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.