The Brandon Wheat Kings and Prince Albert Raiders squared off in one of the most exciting contests to date in the East Division bubble at the Brandt Centre in Regina on Monday night.
In the end, it was the 10-2-1-0 Wheat Kings that had the final say as they earned their seventh straight win with a 3-2 triumph over the 4-7-1-1 Raiders.
“We deserved to win the game and we should have won the game,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “I thought our kids played great and played hard tonight. We were playing ‘The Raider Way.'”
The deciding moment of the contest came during a Prince Albert power play midway through the third period.
After blocking two heavy shots from Raiders forward Justin Nachbaur, Ottawa Senators first round pick Ridly Grieg came back the other way and sniped a shot through the five-hole of netminder Max Paddock to give the Wheat Kings a lead that they would never relinquish.
“It was a really good effort by everyone, but like I said before, we need to play a full 60 minutes,” Nachbaur said. “We only played 58 minutes of that hockey game and we lost.
“Everyone’s starting to buy in here to our structure, which has been the key for our better play here lately, but we need do that for the whole game.”
After a three-point performance on Saturday against the Swift Current Broncos, Nachbaur continued his strong play on Monday as he potted a pair of goals and led all players in shots with eight.
“I’m happy about the individual success, but what I care about the most is getting the two points and winning the game,” the overage forward said.
“He’s a power forward but he’s got some skill,” Habscheid added. “Justin’s a really well-rounded player and we really like what we’ve been seeing from him as of late.”
The Raiders had a couple of chances in the final minute to tie the contest and force overtime, but Ethan Kruger was able to slam the door on all occasions, with his best save coming on a shot by Reece Vitelli with 12 seconds to go.
Greig had a goal and an assist to lead the way for the Wheat Kings, while Prince Albert product Braden Schneider dished out a pair of helpers.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team tonight,” Wheat Kings head coach Don MacGillivray said after the game.
“Prince Albert played a playoff style of game tonight and we matched it. It was a total team effort.”
Nolan Ritchie and Jake Chiasson also scored in the triumph, while Kruger stopped 31 shots.
Max Paddock made 22 saves in a losing effort.
After a couple of days off, the Raiders will return to action on Thursday at 6 p.m. as they’ll face the Saskatoon Blades for the third time this season.
With his third period goal, Ridly Greig became just the second player in the WHL to score more than one shorthanded marker this season.
Portland Winterhawks forward Simon Knak, who is one of a handful of import players to make the trip to North America this year, leads the circuit with three goals.
Ben McCartney had an assist on Grieg’s goal to increase his point streak to 11 games, which is one back of Regina Pats rookie sensation Connor Bedard for the longest run in the league.
Greig and Ritchie extended their own runs of form to seven and five games respectively, while Lynden McCallum saw his nine-game point streak come to an end.
Evan Herman, Kaiden Guhle, Graydon Gotaas and Max Hildebrand did not suit up for the Raiders on Monday, while the Wheat Kings were without the services of Jacob Hoffrogge, Ty Thorpe, Jaxon Dube and Rylan Thiessen.
- Brandon 3 Saskatoon 1 (Ethan Kruger – 22 Saves)
- Seattle 5 Spokane 4 (Conner Roulette Overtime Winner – Henrik Rybinski – Three Assists)
- Vancouver 1 Prince George 0 (Tristen Nielsen Shootout Winner – Tyler Brennan – 43 Saves)
- Moose Jaw 4 Regina 3 (Jagger Firkus Shootout Winner – Eric Alarie – One Goal and One Assists – Connor Bedard’s 12-game point streak to start his WHL career ends)
- Calgary 5 Medicine Hat 4 (Riley Stotts Shootout Winner – Riley Fiddler-Schultz – Three Assists)
- Edmonton 6 Red Deer 1 (Dylan Guenther – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Vancouver 4 Kamloops 0 (Trent Miner – 30 Saves – Third Shutout This Season and Seventh Career)
The Blades have held the upper hand in their previous two meetings with the Raiders this season, as they picked up a 3-1 win on March 19 and shutout their rivals in a 4-0 contest last Monday.
Those wins bookended a seven-game win streak for Saskatoon, which is coming off of a 4-0 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors and a 3-1 defeat to the Wheat Kings over the Easter weekend as they prepare to face the Winnipeg Ice on Tuesday.
Prince Albert’s Marek Schneider has an assist in five games for the Blades this year, while former Raider Rhett Rhinehart has six points in nine contests.
- Winnipeg vs. Saskatoon – 4 p.m.
- Regina vs. Swift Current – 8 p.m.
- Victoria vs. Prince George – 8 p.m.
- Portland vs. Everett – 8 p.m.
- Seattle vs. Tri-City – 8 p.m.
- Winnipeg vs. Moose Jaw – 4 p.m.
- Tri-City vs. Spokane – 7 p.m.
- Swift Current vs. Brandon – 8 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Victoria – 8 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Saskatoon – 6 p.m.