The Prince Albert Raiders controlled things at both ends of the ice on Wednesday night at the Art Hauser Centre.
Kaiden Guhle and Ilya Usau had a goal and an assist each, while Max Paddock stopped all 17 shots he faced for his first shutout for the team as they picked up a 3-0 triumph over the Victoria Royals.
“We only had four shots on goal after the first period so we really emphasized putting pucks on net and getting bodies to the front of the net during the intermission,” Guhle said.
“Our speed came into play in the second period and we seemed to tire them out a little bit,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid added. “We were good again in the third period and we were able to work through things when they came on with a bit of a push.”
Paddock, who had recorded four shutouts as a member of the Regina Pats over the last two years, had only faced less than 20 shots once before in his WHL career as he made 17 saves in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Hitmen on Dec. 3, 2017.
“It was a little bit of a difficult game as I had only faced eight shots after the second period, but the guys did a great job of limiting their shots to the outside,” Paddock said. “It always feels good when you can get a shutout, but it’s nice to get that first one out of the way here.”
“It was a little bit of a different game for Max,” Habscheid said. “With all due respect (to the Pats), he’s probably used to getting a few more shots at him. It can be tough sometimes when you face fewer shots, but (Raiders goalie coach Kelly Guard) ‘Guardo’ is the king of that (from his time with the Kelowna Rockets) so he can learn from ‘Guardo’ on how to deal with that.”
Reece Vitelli had an empty net goal for the 25-14-5-4 Raiders, who took three out of their five meetings with B.C. Division teams this season.
“It’s good to play those different teams,” Habscheid said. “We play Saskatoon about 85 times a year, and while the rivalry is there, I’m sure (Blades head coach) Mitch (Love) feels the same way sometimes as it can get old to play a team that much.
“I think the fans like to see the other teams once every two years and they get to see some players that they don’t usually see in person.”
The 25-18-4-0 Royals, who have their lost three straight meetings with the Raiders, are currently mired in a six-game losing streak as they continue their East Division road swing on Friday against the Pats.
“I think we could have won every game in this stretch but we’ve had a couple of bounces go the other team’s way and there have been some deviations in our game that have cost us,” Royals forward Carson Miller said.
“Prince Albert played well tonight, but I thought we took a step in the right direction. We just need to keep working hard and hopefully we can get a couple of wins in Regina and Moose Jaw before we go back to Victoria.”
Adam Evanoff turned aside 24 shots for the Royals and also had a save of the year candidate in the third period as he made a sprawling glove save on Ozzy Wiesblatt, which resulted in a round of applause from the Art Hauser Centre crowd.
The Raiders, who remain tied for first place in the East Division standings with the Winnipeg Ice, will conclude their four-game homestand on Friday as they’ll welcome the Lethbridge Hurricanes to town for a 7 p.m. contest.
“I think we just need to do the same things that we have been doing over these last three games, which is the best I’ve seen from us since I got here,” Paddock said.
“Lethbridge is a good offensive team and I think this will be a good test for us.”
Wednesday’s win marked the first time that the Raiders had shutout the Royals in franchise history.
The last time that the Royals were held off of the scoresheet was on Oct. 30, 2019 as Cole Schwebius made 33 saves for the Kelowna Rockets in a 1-0 triumph.
Former Raiders forward Carson Miller made his first trip to the Art Hauser Centre since being part of the Dante Hannoun trade last January, while blueliner Remy Aquillon faced his old team for the first time since the Royals dealt him to Prince Albert in September.
Daniil Stepanov did not dress for the Raiders, while the Royals scratched Shane Farkas, Will Warm, Trentyn Crane, Matthew Hodson and Sean Gulka.
- Calgary 3 Winnipeg 2 (Brayden Peters – 24 Saves)
- Kamloops 4 Spokane 2 (Josh Pillar – One Goal and One Assist)
- Red Deer 5 Brandon 4 (Arshdeep Bains – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Edmonton 6 Brandon 2 (Riley Sawchuk – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Medicine Hat 7 Swift Current 0 (James Hamblin – One Goal and Three Assists – Garin Bjorklund – 17 Saves – First Career Shutout)
- Saskatoon 4 Victoria 3 (Chase Wouters Overtime Winner – Martin Fasko-Rudas – Three Goals – First Hat Trick This Season and Second Career)
- Seattle 4 Tri-City 2 (Max Patterson – One Goal and One Assist)
- Calgary 5 Red Deer 2 (Mark Kastelic – Two Assists)
- Everett 4 Spokane 1 (Cole Fonstad – Two Goals)
- Vancouver 3 Kelowna 1 (Michal Kvasnica – Two Goals)
- Regina 4 Saskatoon 3 (Cole Dubinsky Overtime Winner – Donovan Buskey – 33 Saves)
- Winnipeg 5 Moose Jaw 4 (Peyton Krebs – Two Goals and One Assist)
The Raiders have won both of their meetings with the Hurricanes this season heading into Friday’s encounter, as they picked up a 4-2 home triumph on Oct. 11 and a 5-3 road victory on Nov. 22.
The 29-11-2-5 Hurricanes, who are a point ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers for second place in the Central Division, are on a three-game winning streak after a wild 6-5 overtime affair against the host Brandon Wheat Kings last Saturday.
World Junior gold medalists Dylan Cozens and Calen Addison enter the evening on seven-game point streaks, while former Prince Albert Mintos forward Logan Barlage has recorded a point in his last six contests.
Second-year blueliner Alex Cotton is having an outstanding campaign for the team as he leads the entire WHL in defensive scoring (51 points) and goals (15), while his 36 assists are second only to Max Martin of the Kamloops Blazers.
The Hurricanes are currently without the services of forward Dino Kambeitz and Brett Davis, along with defenceman Joe Arntsen, due to upper body injuries.
- Saskatoon vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Brandon vs. Calgary – 8 p.m.
- Winnipeg vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
- Tri-City vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Vancouver – 9:30 p.m.
- Portland vs. Everett – 9:30 p.m.