The final meeting of the season between the Regina Pats and the Prince Albert Raiders saw an extra bit of physicality, fisticuffs and post-whistle scrums when compared to their other three meetings this year.
While the Pats came away with a 4-3 victory over the Raiders at the Brandt Centre on Sunday, Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid called the matchup a great one to help evaluate the team’s roster going forward.
“There are some guys that want these games and there are other guys that don’t want these games,” Habscheid said. “You look at guys like (Eric) Pearce, (Ozzy) Wiesblatt and (Justin) Nachabur, they compete. They have rings and accept games like this. They can play however you want the game to be play and I think that’s good for our guys to see that in these types of conditions. If you want to be champions, you’re going to have games like this.
“It was a hard-fought game. Regina brought it early and had us on our heels a little bit. Once we gathered ourselves up, I thought we played good.”
The Raiders had a chance to tie the game up during a six-on-four situation in the final 1:51 of the third period when Drew Englot was called for getting his stick up in the face of Tyson Laventure, but the Pats penalty kill was able to nullify any scoring opportunities for Prince Albert.
“We had a bit of a slow start tonight,” Laventure said. “We were a little too relaxed and we had to play catch up for the rest of the game.
“When we play Moose Jaw tomorrow night, we’ll need to make sure that we are ready to go when the puck drops and have a solid start.”
Laventure, who has recorded all seven of his point this year against the Pats, led the way on offence for the Raiders with a pair of goals.
“I’m not really sure if there’s a secret or anything,” Laventure joked. “I’m having good games against them but I’m hoping to carry it forward to the next couple of games and not just against the Pats.”
“Tyson’s still fighting consistency a little bit,” Habscheid added. “He’s a goal scorer and you need to put yourself in a position to score goals when you are in that role. When he does that, he’s able to score, but when he doesn’t do that, he’s not as effective.”
Tre Fouquette also put in a strong performance in his second career WHL goal as he picked up an assist on Laventure’s first goal and also found the back of the net during the middle stanza for his first career points.
“I was in shock,” Fouquette said. “I didn’t realize that the puck went in, but when I found out that it did it was almost a feeling of relief.”
“Some guys have a hard shot, but Tre has a heavy shot and he also has a smart shot as he knows where it’s going,” Habscheid said. “He’s been playing well so far. He hasn’t played a lot, but he’s only going to get better.”
Max Paddock made 28 saves for the 7-9-2-1 Raiders, who saw their three-game win streak end on Sunday.
Cole Dubinsky potted a pair of goals for the 7-9-2-1 Pats, who brought a halt to their three-game losing skid.
Englot had a goal and an assist in the triumph, which also saw Carter Chorney light the lamp and Matthew Kieper stop 28 shots.
“It was rewarding at the end for our guys, grinding it out against a really good hockey team that plays that way and plays hard,” Pats head coach Dave Struch said.
Something like that you wish would’ve happened in the first week or so, because we have to learn how to play that way. We have to learn how to win that way, as that’s probably the closest we’re going to get to playoff hockey this year.”
The Raiders will return to action at 8 p.m. Monday for their final meeting of the season with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
One of the major talking points of the contest came at the 11:22 mark of the first period when Raiders overage forward Justin Nachbaur made a heavy hit on Pats rookie forward Braxton Whitehead.
While it appeared that Nachbaur’s right shoulder made contact with Whitehead’s chest on multiple replays, the officials gave Nachbaur a five-minute major penalty for a check to the head and a game misconduct.
“That was a good hit,” Habscheid said. “Hockey’s a contact sport and that was a good clean open ice hit where his elbows were down.
“If that’s not an allowed hit, we’re missing something as that’s as clean of a hit as you can get. Was it a hard hit? Yeah, but it was a clean hit. If we’re going to take those hits out of the game, that’s going to change it drastically.”
Whitehead was able to skate his way back to the Pats bench with some assistance by teammates Cole Carrier and Ryker Evans, but did not return to the ice for the rest of the night.
With Sunday’s win, the Pats earned a split of the season series with the Raiders for the first time since 2014-15, when each side won four contests.
Evans extended his point streak to nine games with an assist on Drew Englot’s game-winning goal and is now two markers back of Medicine Hat’s Cole Clayton for the WHL defensive scoring lead.
Connor Bedard, Jacob Dewitt, Zack Smith, Jakob Brook, Jake Johnson and Marcus Taylor did not dress for the Pats on Sunday, while the Raiders were without the services of Nolan Allan, Kaiden Guhle, Landon Kosior, Logan Danis and Max Hildebrand.
- Winnipeg 5 Swift Current 4 (Owen Pederson – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Medicine Hat 4 Red Deer 2 (Corson Hopwo – Two Goals)
- Everett 5 Seattle 3 (Gage Goncalves – Two Goals and Two Assists)
- Prince George 5 Victoria 2 (Connor Martin – 36 Saves)
- Brandon 4 Moose Jaw 1 (Ben McCartney – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Portland 3 Seattle 1 (Reece Newkirk – One Goal and One Assist)
- Lethbridge 6 Edmonton 5 (Logan Barlage Shootout Winner – Noah Boyko – Three Goals First Career Hat Trick)
- Medicine Hat 5 Red Deer 2 (Ryan Chyzowski – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Swift Current 3 Saskatoon 2 (Mathew Ward Shootout Winner – Reid Dyck – 33 Saves)
- Kelowna 7 Prince George 5 (Trevor Wong – Four Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
- Brandon 5 Winnipeg 4 (Braden Schneider Overtime Winner – Ben McCartney – Four Assists – Peyton Krebs – One Goal and Three Assists)
- Everett 6 Portland 2 (Ethan Regnier – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
- Edmonton 5 Lethbridge 3 (Carter Souch – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Vancouver 4 Kamloops 0 (Tristen Nielsen – Three Goals – Second Hat Trick This Season and Third Career – Trent Miner – 27 Saves – Fourth Shutout This Season and Eighth Career)
The 7-11-1-0 Warriors enter Monday’s contest on a four-game losing streak, with their last win coming in a 6-2 matchup with the Swift Current Broncos on April 9.
If the Raiders defeat the Warriors, it will mark the third year in a row that they’ve won the season series over their provincial foes.
If the Warriors can come away with the victory, it will mark the first time since 2014-15 that each side has split the season series.
The Warriors will be without the services of Denton Mateychuk, who is with Canada’s Under-18 team in Texas, while Logan Doust, Calder Anderson and Bryden Kiesman all missed Saturday’s contest with Brandon due to upper body injuries.
Raiders blueliner Landon Kosior will not play on Monday as he serves the final game of his three-game suspension for a checking to the head penalty and game misconduct he received for a hit on Pats forward Zack Smith on April 13.
- Winnipeg vs. Swift Current – 4 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Medicine Hat – 7 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Moose Jaw – 8 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Vancouver – 8 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Victoria – 8 p.m.