Defensive play key to Raiders win over Ice

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt celebrates with his teammates after scoring the first goal of the game against the Winnipeg Ice Friday.

After a firewagon 12-goal affair against the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday, the Prince Albert Raiders got back to basics at the Art Hauser Centre Friday.

With a solid structure in their own end and a 23-save showing by Carter Serhyenko, the Raiders built off their defensive play to pick up a 3-1 win over a Winnipeg Ice side that entered the night on a five-game win streak. 

“We found a way to win,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. 

“Winnipeg’s a pretty good team with some high end talent, but we played a good team game against them. I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting their scoring chances and Carter was there to make some big saves whenever we had a breakdown.”

Although he hasn’t played enough minutes to qualify among the league leaders, Serhyenko’s 1.73 goals against average would have him ahead of the Western Hockey League’s current best mark of 1.81 by Joel Hofer of the Portland Winterhawks.

“I didn’t know what to expect at the start of the season but I feel like I’m adjusting well now that I’ve started to play in some more games,” said the 17-year-old netminder from Saskatoon, who spent the last two seasons with the Battlefords Stars of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.

“I’m just trying to maintain good habits and that comes from having a goalie coach (Kelly Guard) here all the time, plus I try to treat every practice like it was a game.”

At the other end of the rink, Ozzy Wiesblatt increased his scoring streak to six straight games as he had a goal and an assist to lead the way on offence.

“I’m just surrounded by good players,” Wiesblatt said. “(Spencer) Moe is super fast and ‘Wattsy’ (Brayden Watts) is a super smart player with a great shot.

“We’re all using each other out there and we’re all doing amazing.”

Moe and Justin Nachbaur also scored for the Raiders, who improved their record to 20-7-3-1 and increased their lead in the East Division over the 18-12-1-0 Ice to seven points.

Owen Pederson had the lone goal for the visitors, who received a 24-save performance from Liam Hughes.

The Raiders will be back in action tomorrow night for their annual Teddy Bear Toss game as the Kamloops Blazers will come town for a 7 p.m. start.

They will then visit the Saskatoon Blades Sunday in a 4 p.m. contest at the SaskTel Centre in their final game before the Christmas break. 

Post-Game Notes

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Prince Albert Mintos Chase Bertholet suited up for his second career game with the Winnipeg Ice Friday night.

After making his WHL debut for the Winnipeg Ice on Wednesday against the Kelowna Rockets, Prince Albert Mintos forward Chase Bertholet got the chance to play in his usual home rink on Friday.

“It was definitely special to play here for the Ice in Prince Albert,” Bertholet said. “I know lots of my teammates from the Mintos were here supporting me and my family drove up for the game.

“It’s just too bad that we couldn’t get the win tonight.”

Bertholet, who was originally a fifth round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft by the Red Deer Rebels before was dealt to the Ice last December, will remain with the team for their last three games prior to the Christmas break.

“There’s a good pace in this league and this stint is giving me an idea of what it will be like to make the jump into the WHL,” Bertholet said.

“The guys are definitely bigger and faster here and I’ve been able to learn quite a lot over the last two games.”

The 16-year-old from The Pas, Man has 17 points in 24 games so far this year for the Mintos, who he will rejoin in time for the Mac’s Midget Tournament in Calgary on Boxing Day.

The Raiders made a minor move on Thursday as they acquired the rights to 19-year-old blueliner Devan Harrison from the Kamloops Blazers for a conditional 10th round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft

The 19-year-old from Dysart was a second round pick by the Blazers in 2015 and had five points in 62 games for the club before he joined the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins last year.

Harrison is tied for eighth in team scoring for the Bruins this year with 12 points in 29 games. 

Ozzy Wiesblatt’s six-game point streak is the longest of his career, as he previously had three streaks that lasted for five games.

Vegas Golden Knights prospect Peyton Krebs was back in the Ice lineup on Friday after he was cut from Canada’s World Junior team roster a day earlier.

Jakin Smallwood was held off of the scoresheet in the loss, which brought an end to his five-game point streak.

Aliaksei Protas, Ilya Usau and Niall Crocker did not dress for the Raiders, while the Ice scratched Gage Alexander, Anson McMaster, Nino Kinder, Michael Milne, Skyler Bruce and Michal Teply.

Division I World Juniors

Although they’ll need some help, the Belarus Under-20 team still has a chance to win the 2020 Division I World Juniors in the country’s capital, Minsk.

The squad, which includes Prince Albert Raiders forwards Aliaksei Protas and Ilya Usau, has a 2-0-2 record heading into their round-robin finale against Denmark Sunday.

They are tied for second place with 3-1 Latvia and are one point behind the tournament leaders Austria, who also have a 3-1 record.

Austria can win the tournament outright if they beat Slovenia on Sunday, which would earn them a spot at the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton and Red Deer.

If they lose, Belarus can advance with a regulation win over Denmark and either an overtime win or a loss for Latvia against Norway.

After dropping a 3-2 overtime affair to Norway on Thursday, Belarus returned to the win column Friday with a 4-1 triumph over Slovenia.

Protas, who has three points in four games, had an assist in the loss to Norway and found the back of the net in the third period against Slovenia.

Usau had an assist on the Protas goal for his third point of the tournament.

Both players are expected to be back in a Raiders uniform when the team returns from their Christmas break on Friday, Dec. 27 against the Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre.

Friday’s Scores

  • Brandon 11 Moose Jaw 1 (Luke Burzan – Three Goals and Three Assists – Third Career Hat Trick)
  • Edmonton 5 Swift Current 1 (Riley Sawchuk – Two Assists)
  • Portland 3 Everett 2 (Reece Newkirk Overtime Winner – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Victoria 3 Prince George 2 (Tarun Fizer Shootout Winner – Gary Haden – Two Goals)
  • Red Deer 6 Medicine Hat 4 (Cameron Hausinger – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Regina 4 Kelowna 3 (Caiden Daley – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Kamloops 5 Saskatoon 2 (Orrin Centazzo – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Seattle 5 Tri-City 1 (Beck Warm – 52 Saves)

Pre-Game Notes

Saturday’s trip to the Art Hauser Centre will mark the end of the Blazers six-game trip through the WHL’s East Division.

They enter the contest with a 3-0-2-0 mark against teams from Saskatchewan and Manitoba and are coming off victories against the Regina Pats and the Saskatoon Blades.

Following Friday’s 5-1 win at the SaskTel Centre, the 20-9-2-1 Blazers have a six-point lead over the Kelowna Rockets in the BC Division and are one point behind the Portland Winterhawks for first place in the Western Conference.

Forward Zane Franklin and Orrin Centazzo are two of the key offensive threats for the Blazers and will enter the night with six-game point streaks.

Former Prince Albert Raiders defender Max Martin will be making his return to the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday, along with one-time Prince Albert Mintos forward Josh Pillar.

Another former Mintos forward will not be in the lineup as Kyrell Sopotyk is sidelined with a separated shoulder that he suffered from a hit by Rockets forward Pavel Novak last month.

Forward Martin Lang will also not dress for the contest as he’s currently trying out for the Czech Republic World Junior team.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Kelowna vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
  • Swift Current vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
  • Spokane vs. Seattle – 8 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Everett – 9 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.