Beaten by old demons

Simon Stransky makes a bid for his 13th of the season, but is poke-checked by Rylan Parenteau ---- Dustin Saracini/Daily Herald

Numerous skaters with connections to Prince Albert were immense in their return to the Art Hauser Centre

A handful of familiar faces on an unfamiliar team came to town tonight as the Prince Albert Raiders hosted the Tri-City Americans for their biennial matchup. Rylan Parenteau was in between the pipes for the opposition, and was good, to say the least. The former Raider posted a 40-save performance in the Raiders’ 7-1 loss, stealing the show on the defensive side for his new club. In front of him, Dalton Yorke came back to town, as well as former Prince Albert Mintos offensive threat Riley Sawchuk, who scored his first WHL marker.

“It’s indescribable, the feeling is great,” Sawchuk said of his goal.

“I thought about it before the game and I just never thought it would happen, but it did … I was stunned, I didn’t even know what to do, I didn’t think of a celebration or anything. I just put my stick up and a shiver went through my body.”

For Parenteau, this was his first game back since being dealt Oct. 13, and was looking forward to seeing some of his old friends at the rink.

“There was a bit of a build up to it,” he said.

“It was one of the first things I wanted to see when I first got traded, if we were going to be playing against [Prince Albert]. Me and Dalton both had that date marked on the calendar, January 6th … It was a fun game, a little different seeing those colours on the other side coming at you, but I feel it was a fun experience.”

Cole Fonstad — from Carson Miller and Max Martin — was able to break the shutout bid late in third with a slap shot on the man advantage. When asked about the potential shut down of his old club, all Parenteau could do was laugh.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” he said.

“That would have been my first one this season. I’m always fighting hard for it, my teammates were as well. It was right down to the bitter end … I think the hockey gods were on my side for a couple other chances.”

There wasn’t much in terms of offensive penetration in the opening frame. Both clubs were fantastic inside their own zone prior to Jordan Topping making the Raiders pay with his fifth of the year. Consistent pressure and the inability to get the rubber out led to Tyler Sandhu finding the B.C. product wide-open in the slot, who made no mistake. The lone chance from Prince Albert came courtesy of Czech Simon Stransky, who played in his first game since returning from the World Junior tournament. A few nifty moves found Stransky one-on-one with former teammate Parenteau, who dealt with the opportunity via the poke-check.

The Americans offence continued to capitalize off the mistakes of Prince Albert in the second. A blind centreing pass deflected off the shin pad of a Raider in front, trickling to the blade of Dylan Coghlan. The third-year American rifled a wrist shot through traffic to double the Tri-City lead at the 11:10 mark.

This isn’t to say the green and gold didn’t have their chances in the second, though. Fonstad and Spencer Moe broke in on a two-on-none, only to have their efforts thwarted by a back-checking American. Fonstad ended the sequence with a wrister into the logo of Parenteau. Rookie Carson Miller decided to get in on the action as well near the end of the frame, toe-dragging around a defender before a backhand shot was stopped by the former Raider.

The roof caved in at the Art Hauser Centre in the third as the Americans opened the floodgates with five tallies. A point shot from Juuso Valimaki deflected off the body of Maxwell James to beat Ian Scott before Sawchuk notched his first WHL goal. It seemed only fitting for the rookie, who scored 25 times in his last season with the Mintos, to get his first one in his hometown arena.

“Coming back it reminded me, I guess last year, playing with the Mintos and having a good year, that’s kind of what I visualized before the game,” Sawchuk said.

Topping then “topped” off his night with his second of the game, while Kyle Olsen registered his 10th to make it 7-0 late in the final frame.

The (8-30-1-2) Raiders now take on the (22-12-3-4) Broncos tomorrow in Swift Current. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

Daily Herald THREE STARS

Jordan Topping (2 G, 2 A)

Rylan Parenteau (40 SVs)

Riley Sawchuk (1 G)

Stocking the shelves

The Prince Albert Raiders have traded the rights to overage forward Reid Gardiner to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, a conditional first-round pick in 2017 or 2018 and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2019.

Earlier today, Gardiner was released by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and will return to WHL action for the second half of the season.

Depending on where the first-round pick lands, the Raiders would have two first-round selections in this years draft, coupled with a pair of second and third rounders. If the pick is in 2018, they will have three first-round selections that year, adding to the shelves following the Brendan Guhle deal.

Prince Albert has now either sold or lost six of their eight top goal scorers from a season ago, but continue to set themselves up for a bright future. Simon Stransky and Luke Coleman are the remaining Raiders on that list.

Gardiner, a Humboldt product, did not suit up with the Raiders this season. He earned a tryout and eventually signed a contract with the Penguins of the American League. In 23 games in the AHL, Gardiner had three goals and three assists.