The Winnipeg Ice struck early and often, cruising to an 8-0 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in a feisty affair at Wayne Fleming Arena on Saturday.
The Raiders have now lost four straight to start the season. That’s their longest season-opening losing streak since 2011-12, when they also lost their first four games.
Connor McClennon led the way for the Ice with a hat-trick, while Matthew Savoie chipped in with three assists. Ronin Geraghty made 26 saves for the Raiders in his first start of the season, while Alexander Gage made 13 stops to get the win for the Ice.
“We were overmatched. Pretty simple,” Raiders coach Marc Habscheid said after the game. “It’s tough. We’ve just got to keep slugging away.”
Despite the eight goal outburst, Winnipeg defenceman Karter Prosofsky’s heavy hit on Raiders forward Bryce Warkentine was the game’s biggest talking point.
Prosofsky’s second period hit earned him a five minute major and a game misconduct for checking to the head. It also earned him the attention of Raiders defenceman Remy Aquilon, who was thrown out for instigating a fight.
“It was a tough hit,” Habscheid said when asked about the incident. “Obviously, the guy got a five minute major for it, and rightfully so. He deserved it. It’s a dangerous hit, and we don’t want that in the league.”
The Ice opened the scoring at 8:21 of the first period when Jakin Smallwood’s wrist shot from the slot beat Geraghty to make it 1-0. Mike Milne made it 2-0 just over six minutes later on the power play, and Smallwood made it 3-0 with his second of the night at 17:26.
The goals kept coming in the second, when McLennon scored his first of three on the night at 1:50. He struck again at 3:57 on the power play, making it 5-0.
Conor Geekie made it 6-0 with another power play goal early in the third, with Hayden Pakkala serving a double-minor for high-sticking Ice assistant captain Carson Lambos.
McLennon’s hat-trick goal made it 7-0 at 12:01, and Zachary Benson added another power play goal at 16:50 to make it 8-0.
The Raiders are off until Wednesday when they travel to Moose Jaw for the first game of a home-and-home with the Warriors. Puck drop is 7 p.m. at Mosaic Place.
Around the WHL – games of note
Blades 6 Wheat Kings 2
Kyle Crnkovic had two goals and Jayden Wiens received a five minute major and game misconduct for goaltender interference in another feisty WHL affair between the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings.
Tanner Molendyk, Brandon Lisowsky, Brendan Lee and former Raider defenceman Rhett Rhinehart also scored for the Blades, while Ridly Greig and Nate Danielson replied for the Wheat Kings.
Brandon netminder Ethan Kruger made 21 saves before leaving the game following Wiens’ hit. Carson Bjarnason made 22 saves for the Wheat Kings in a relief appearance. Nolan Maier made 31 stops to earn the win for Saskatoon.
Hurricanes 2 Rebels 1 (OT)
Alex Cotton’s goal at 2:28 of overtime gave the Lethbridge Hurricanes at 2-1 win over the Red Deer Rebels before 2,727 fans at the Enmax Centre.
Cotton took a pass in the slot and chipped a shot past screened Rebels goalie Connor Ungar to send the hometown crowd into a frenzy.
The overtime winner was Cotton’s second goal of the night. Kalan Lind had the lone goal for Red Deer.
Bryan Thomson made 30 saves for the Hurricanes to earn the win, while Ungar had 32 stops for the Rebels.