As they have throughout the 2019-20 Western Hockey League regular season, the Saskatoon Blades had the upper hand over the Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night.
The Blades picked up their sixth victory in seven meetings with their archrivals this year and also brought an end to the Raiders’ four-game win streak in a 4-2 contest at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
“It was 1-1 after two periods and we told the guys during that intermission that we had ourselves a chance,” Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt said on the 900 CKBI post-game show. “We hadn’t played our best game, but if we cranked it up, good things would happen.
“I thought we stayed to the outside an awful lot and we weren’t inside getting those second opportunities. It’s about the will and the want right now, and while I know our guys want to win, we have to play a lot more desperate than we did tonight.”
Besides a goal by Nolan Allan in the dying stages of regulation, the other offensive contribution for the Raiders came off of the stick of Ozzy Wiesblatt early in the second period.
“I thought Ozzy was the best player for us tonight, but when you have other guys that aren’t playing at the top of their game right now, it’s going to hurt,” Truitt said.
“You’ve got to make sure that you are firing on all cylinders here. It’s a desperate time and there’s not a lot of games left. A lot of things can happen in the standings and you’ve got to play desperate hockey. When you don’t bring a full tank, it just seems like everything lags and our best players struggled tonight.”
Max Paddock turned aside 23 shots for the Raiders, who remain in first place in the East Division with a 32-17-5-4 record but are just a single marker ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The 31-22-2-3 Blades, who are now on a four-game win streak and are only two points back of the Winnipeg Ice for third place in the East Division, received a two-goal performance from Tristen Robins and saw blueliner Scott Walford dish out a pair of helpers.
Kyle Crnkovic had a goal and an assist for the hosts, while Zach Huber also lit the lamp and Nolan Maier stopped 24 shots.
The Raiders will start a four-game homestand on Saturday night with a rematch against the Blades at 7 p.m.
They will then welcome the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Art Hauser Centre at 6 p.m. Sunday.
The Raiders were without the services of forward Matthew Culling for the majority of the contest after he was on the receiving end of a hit by Blades blueliner Rhett Rhinehart in the first period.
His status for Saturday’s rematch was not known following the game.
Ilya Usau recorded an assist on Friday to extend his point streak to a career high seven games, while Wiesblatt’s goal increased his run of form to six games.
Walford’s two-assist night also gave him at least a point in his last five contests.
Michael Horon was the lone scratch for the Raiders, while the Blades did not dress Nolan Kneen and Randen Schmidt.
- Brandon 3 Calgary 2 (Jiri Patera – 35 Saves)
- Everett 4 Kelowna 3 (Bryce Kindopp Overtime Winner – Cole Fonstad – Two Assists)
- Lethbridge 5 Edmonton 4 (Alex Cotton Shootout Winner – Three Assists)
- Moose Jaw 6 Swift Current 2 (Martin Lang – One Goal and Three Assists)
- Kamloops 6 Prince George 1 (Connor Zary – One Goal and Three Assists)
- Red Deer 2 Winnipeg 1 (Ethan Anders – 37 Saves)
- Medicine Hat 8 Regina 2 (Brett Kemp – Four Goals – Second Hat Trick This Season and Third Career)
- Spokane 9 Seattle 2 (Ty Smith – Three Goals and Five Assists – First Career Hat Trick – Previous Single-Game Best Performance was Two Goals and Five Assists in a 9-2 win over Prince George on Feb. 23, 2018)
- Portland 3 Tri-City 1 (Dante Giannuzzi – 23 Saves)
- Vancouver 3 Victoria 0 (Bowen Byram – One Goal and One Assist – Trent Miner – 18 Saves – First Shutout This Season and Fourth Career)
- Calgary 4 Winnipeg 1 (Kyle Olson – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Kelowna 5 Prince George 4 (Matthew Wedman – Two Goals and One Assist – Prince George’s loss allows Vancouver to clinch a playoff spot for the third straight season)
- Brandon 9 Swift Current 1 (Luke Burzan – Two Goals and One Assist – Brandon clinches a playoff spot for the first time since 2018)
- Everett 8 Tri-City 1 (Jake Christiansen – Three Goals and One Assist – First Hat Trick This Season and Second Career)
- Edmonton 10 Winnipeg 1 (Dylan Guenther – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick)
- Kelowna 5 Prince George 4 (Dillon Hamaliuk Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist – Prince George’s loss allows Victoria to clinch a playoff spot for the eighth straight season)
- Everett 6 Portland 2 (Gage Goncalves – Two Goals and Two Assists)
- Regina 4 Brandon 3 (Austin Pratt Overtime Winner – One Goal and One Assist)
- Prince George 2 Seattle 1 (Josh Maser Overtime Winner – Taylor Gauthier – 25 Saves)
- Saskatoon vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
- Moose Jaw vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Brandon vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
- Edmonton vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
- Portland vs. Seattle – 8 p.m.
- Regina vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Kamloops – 9 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Everett – 9 p.m.
- Tri-City vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Victoria – 9 p.m.