Sloan Stanick scored twice while Tikhon Chaika made 22 saves, as the Prince Albert Raiders came back in style with a 5-1 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night.
In their first game in nine days, it was all systems go, as the Raiders poured on the offense from the opening puck drop.
“It wasn’t a Picasso,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “There was a bit of choppy play on both sides. I thought maybe (Lethbridge) had an advantage since they played on Wednesday. We really wanted the guys to be focused and get involved early.”
The Raiders opened with spurts of heavy pressure in the first period, especially from the line of Reece Vitelli, Cale Sanders, and Keaton Sorenson. The trio connected on the first goal of the game when Joe Arntsen broke his stick in the Lethbridge zone, allowing the Raiders to set up shop.
Vitelli ripped a shot from the circle, leaving a rebound in the slot. Sanders dove in front of the net to play the puck for Sorenson, who buried his seventh goal of the season.
With the shots even at seven apiece after the first, Prince Albert took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to find an answer in the second period. Tyson Laventure, who was dealt from the Raiders to the Hurricanes on Dec. 31st, burned his old team with a goal just 1:30 into the period. After fighting his way into the zone against Tayem Gislason, Laventure skated right down the middle of the ice, and delivered a nicely placed shot in tight over Tikhon Chaika’s glove. Laventure already had an assist in his first game with Lethbridge earlier this week, and now added a goal with his new squad, tying the game 1-1.
It took a while after Laventure tied the game, but Prince Albert jumped ahead again in the second. Evan Herman and Sloan Stanick criss-crossed inside the Hurricanes zone, with the puck on Herman’s stick. He dished a pass across to Stanick, who ripped a shot from the right circle past Bryan Thompson. Stanick’s 12th goal of the season restored the Raiders’ one goal lead with 5:10 left in the second, as Prince Albert took a 2-1 lead.
With exactly one minute to go in the second period, the Raiders found an important momentum marker. The trio of Vitelli, Sanders, and Sorenson connected on another goal, this time Vitelli being the beneficiary of a crafty play by Sanders.
Sorenson worked his way down the right wing, throwing a pass in front. Sanders was knocked down in front of the net, but not before shoving the puck across for Vitelli. He fired a shot from one knee into a virtually empty net, as Thompson was left scrambling after committing to Sorenson’s drive to the crease. Vitelli’s 11th goal of the season gave the Raiders some breathing room, as they went into the second intermission with a 3-1 edge, leading in shots 21-12.
With Carson Latimer drawing out of the lineup on Friday, Hasbscheid said it was important for more guys to step up, and he like how his forwards responded.
“With every situation comes an opportunity to move into different spots, and see what they can do,” he said. “You could tell that some legs weren’t there, but we had to rely on them playing together and to our structure.”
Chaika played a huge role in keeping Prince Albert’s two goal lead intact in the first five minutes of the third period. The Hurricanes applied heavy pressure in the Raider zone while on a man advantage. Three chances for the home side to pull back to within one were denied by the rookie netminder, as Chaika made some brilliant saves, including a flailing stick save denying Laventure of his second goal of the contest. The Raiders were able to clear the puck down the ice, and kill off the rest of the penalty.
Back from the media timeout 6:30 into the third period, Stanick found the back of the net for his second goal of the game. Ozzy Wiesblatt won a faceoff in the Lethbridge zone, and the Raiders were able to cycle the puck around. Wiesblatt sent a pass behind the net for Landon Kosior, who then sent a neat pass in front for Stanick. With time, he ripped a shot past Thompson, who was looking the wrong way. His second of the night gave Stanick a share for the team lead in goals with Even Herman, and more importantly, gave the Raiders a 4-1 lead.
With 1:37 left in the third, Eric Johnston put the game to bed with an empty net marker. His first goal of the season made it a 5-1 Raider lead. Johnston’s tally rounded out the scoring, as Prince Albert picked up their second win in a row.
It will be a short turnaround for the team, as they head into Calgary for an afternoon affair with the Hitmen. Puck drop is at 2:30pm.