The Prince Albert Raiders picked up their fourth straight win on Wednesday night in a finish that needed to be seen to be believed.
Down 3-2 with seven seconds to go, Aliaksei Protas banged home a rebound to tie the game and then took advantage of a turnover by blueliner Dylan Plouffe in the Medicine Hat Tigers end off of the faceoff in overtime to score the game-winning goal just eight seconds into the extra frame as the visitors escaped with a 4-3 win.
“They outplayed us in the third period for sure, but then they started to get greedy when they tried to score on the open net,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.
“They taunted us after they got a shootout win in Prince Albert (on Jan. 15) and they had a lot to say again today. Karma struck them there at the end. What goes around comes around and I wonder if they have anything to say to our guys now.”
Prior to the dramatic finish at the Canalta Centre, it looked like the Raiders’ win streak would come to an end as the Tigers took a 3-2 lead with 4:28 to go.
“We were just okay today,” Habscheid said. “We ran into some penalty trouble and I didn’t think our puck management was very good.
“I also didn’t like how our top six forwards played for most of the game. Our best forwards weren’t our best players…except for about 15 seconds.”
Protas’ had a pair of goals for the 28-14-5-4 Raiders, who have picked up at least a point in their last 12 contests.
Brayden Wats dished out a pair of helpers in the triumph, while Justin Nachbaur and Daniil Stepanov also scored.
After a long-range Baxter Anderson shot took an odd bounce and ended up in the back of the net just five minutes into the game, Max Paddock was his usual steady self and made 30 saves.
“That was just a crazy bounce that got by him there,” Habscheid said. “There was nothing he could do about that one, but I thought he played well after that.”
Nick McCarry potted a pair of goals and Garin Bjorklund turned aside 18 shots for the 32-15-2-1 Tigers, who have lost their last two games and are now two points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes for second place in the Central Division.
The Raiders, who remain four points ahead of the Winnipeg Ice in the East Division, will return to action on Friday as they’ll pay a visit to the Calgary Hitmen.
They will wrap up their four-game road swing on Saturday against the Hurricanes.
Prior to Wednesday’s frantic finish in Medicine Hat, the last time the Raiders had tied a game in the final minute of regulation and won in the opening minute of overtime came in a 5-4 road contest with the Brandon Wheat Kings on Nov. 30, 2013.
Down 4-2 midway through the third period, Leon Draisaitl got the Raiders within a goal at the 13:07 mark of the frame and Chance Braid knotted things up with 12 seconds to go.
Sawyer Lange completed the comeback just 18 seconds into overtime, while Draisaitl earned an assist on the play for his fourth point of the night.
The Tigers were just a few seconds away from earning a clean sweep of the season series with the Raiders, which would have been the first time that they had won all four meetings with the East Division side since the 2016-17 campaign.
McCarry’s two-goal night allowed him to extend his point streak to six games, while Tigers blueliner Parker Gavlas earned an assist in the loss as he extended his scoring run to five games.
Paddock, who was named as the WHL’s goalie of the week on Monday, earned his 50th career win on Wednesday and Protas earned his 100th career point on the game-tying marker.
Tyson Laventure was the lone scratch for the Raiders, while the Tigers were without the services Elijah Brown, Lukas Svejkovsky, Nick Perna and Cole Sillinger.
Sillinger, who is tied with Michal Teply of the Winnipeg Ice for the Western Hockey League rookie scoring lead with 46 points, has been sidelined with an upper body injury that he suffered in a Jan. 28 contest with the Swift Current Broncos.
- Prince George 2 Seattle 1 (Cole Moberg Shootout Winner – Taylor Gauthier – 34 Saves)
- Lethbridge 7 Red Deer 6 (Brett Davis – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Regina 3 Saskatoon 2 (Zack Smith Shootout Winner – Donovan Buskey – 23 Saves)
- Winnipeg 5 Moose Jaw 1 (Jackson Leppard – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
- Spokane 7 Portland 6 (Jack Finley Overtime Winner – Adam Beckman – Two Goals and Two Assists – Portland clinches a playoff spot for the 11th straight season)
- Prince George 6 Seattle 4 (Ethan Browne – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Vancouver 12 Tri-City 4 (Cole Shepard – Four Assists)
Friday’s matchup at the Scotiabank Saddledome is the third of the season between the Raiders and the Hitmen.
Calgary earned a 4-2 home win on Nov. 6 and Prince Albert responded with a 5-4 overtime victory at the Art Hauser Centre on Nov. 17.
Following a 5-0 shutout of the visiting Red Deer Rebels last Saturday, the 27-16-4-1 Hitmen are in fourth in the East Division and have a four-point advantage over the Saskatoon Blades for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Forwards Blake Allan and Kyle Olson were both listed as day-to-day with injuries on the WHL’s Weekly Report, while blueliners Andrew Viggars and Egor Zamula are both out with long-term aliments.
- Regina vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Brandon – 7:30 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Calgary – 8 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Edmonton – 8 p.m.
- Portland vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
- Everett vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Victoria – 9 p.m.