Blades benefit from successful coach’s challenge, Raiders fall 3-2 in overtime

The Raiders celebrate Hayden Pakkala's goal in the second period against the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre. The rookie finished with two goals in the 3-2 overtime defeat. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

An overturned goal late in the third period cost the Raiders the win against the Saskatoon Blades, as they fell 3-2 in overtime on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

Remy Aquilon looked like he gave the Raiders the go ahead goal with under three minutes left in regulation, but a successful coaches challenge from the Blades overturned the call on the ice. The game went to overtime, where Egor Sidorov scored the game winning goal, silencing the crowd of 2,600, as the Raiders came away with a single point.

Hayden Pakkala scored twice for the Raiders, while Cale Sanders assisted on both goals in the loss. The Raiders had their winning streak snapped at three games, but extended their point streak to four straight.

“I liked our game, I liked everything about it except the score,” head coach Marc Habscheid said. “Our powerplay could’ve made a difference. We hit a post in overtime on the powerplay, but we had some good looks. We played good, and we deserved a better fate.”

After a strong start to the first period, and an aggressive forecheck, the Raiders had a handful of chances to open the scoring. The closest they got was on the man advantage, when Sloan Stanick took a shot that Nolan Maier had trouble controlling. He left a rebound in front which Reece Vitelli jumped all over, but the captain chipped the puck over the net on a backhand try, missing his 21st goal by mere inches.

The Blades opened the scoring with 2:37 to go in the first period. Josh Pillar led a rush into the Raider end and cut to the front of the net for a scoring change. Tikhon Chaika fought off Pillar’s shot, but Vaughn Watterodt jumped all over the rebound to score his sixth goal of the season.

While they put up 16 shots compared to Saskatoon’s 10 after 20 minutes, the Raiders went into the second period trailing by one.

“It seemed like in the first period, although we outshot them, we played a little careful,” Habscheid said. “We played good, we didn’t play great.”

It took just 2:18 into the second period for Prince Albert to tie things up. With pressure in the Blades’ end, Hayden Pakkala grabbed control of the puck in the slot. Facing the point, the Raider rookie spun and fired a shot, fooling Maier blocker side. Pakkala’s eighth goal of the season made it a 1-1 game.

“Once we scored, all of a sudden we got going,” Habscheid added. “Like I said, I have no complaints about the game other than we missed out on one point.”

“I thought our line played really well tonight,” Pakkala said. “I thought our whole team played well, but a couple of tough bounces didn’t go our way and a couple went (Saskatoon’s) way. It happens, but at least we got a point out of it.”

With a relentless forecheck to continue the second period, the Raiders took their first lead of the night. From the slot, Cale Sanders sent a blind pass towards the Blades goal. Vlad Shilo got a touch on the puck, redirecting a pass of his own back towards Maier. Pakkala found the pass, and worked the puck from his backhand to his forehand, and slipping a shot in for his second goal of the period. Already nearing 30 shots midway through the second period, Prince Albert took a 2-1 lead, and they also took that same lead into the third period.

Brandon Lisowsky brought the Blades back to a tie with a powerplay marker 7:49 into the third. The forward took a pass in the slot from Tristen Robins, and sniped a shot blocker side past Chaika, who didn’t have time to get set for the shot. Lisowsky’s 31st goal of the year tied things up at 2-2.

It looked like the Raiders took the lead in the late stages of regulation, when Remy Aquilon worked his way from behind the net and buried a goal. The original call on the ice was a good goal, but a challenge by the Blades on the play proved to be the game changer. After a video review, it was determined that the play was offside, negating the goal, and keeping the game tied, much to the chagrin of the fans in attendance.

Tristen Robins took a double minor for boarding Sanders along the left wall, giving the Raiders another chance to put the game away while up a man for the remainder of regulation. Failing to capitalize, the man advantage carried over into overtime, as the two teams were deadlocked at 2-2.

Prince Albert had some more good looks to end the game in the extra frame, but Maier stood tall to the task. After the powerplay expired, the Blades turned the puck up the ice and generated the game winning goal. Rhett Rhinehart cut in towards Chaika from the right wing, and released a backhand shot that the goaltender stopped, but the puck was rolling near the goal line on the reboundwith two Blades players lurking around the net. Sidorov scored the game winner, jamming in the loose puck on the backhand.

 Maier had an incredible game in goal for the Blades, stopping 49 of 51 shots. Chaika put in a solid performance for the Raiders as well, turning aside 30 of 33 shots.

“Even though it’s a rivalry, we’re interested in points, and we got one tonight. It would’ve been nice to get the other one.”

Prince Albert and Saskatoon have a short turnaround, as they will head to the Bridge City for the second half of their home and home weekend at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday night.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m.

Around the WHL

The Raiders fell to 22-28-3-1 with the loss, but the single point brought them back into a playoff spot. With 48 points on the season, Prince Albert is in a share for the final playoff spot with the Calgary Hitmen.

The Moose Jaw Warriors took down the Hitmen 5-2 at Mosaic Place. An overtime win for Prince Albert would have given them sole possession of the eight seed.

The Regina Pats took down the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-3 in regulation at the Brandt Centre on Friday night. While the win for the Pats brings them two points closer to Prince Albert in the standings, it keeps the Raiders within two points of the ‘Canes for the seventh seed.