Blades blank Raiders to close out regular season

Photo by Mark Peterson Media/Prince Albert Raiders. Nathan Preston got the start in net for Prince Albert on Saturday night, making 22 saves.

The regular season has to come to a close for the Prince Albert Raiders as they fell 5-0 to the Saskatoon Blades at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday night.

Despite the goose egg in the score column, Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says there were some positives to take from the game.

“I thought we broke the puck out real well in the first period. Even the first two periods, they didn’t think we were bad at all. We had more puck control out of our own zone, made some good reads. We wanted to get the puck low in their zone, and we did. I thought there was an improvement that way.”

A second opportunity rebound on the doorstep would allow Saskatoon to draw the game’s opening goal on the power play. 

Rowan Calvert would deposit his 10th goal of the season at the 6:29 mark of the opening frame.  Alexander Suzdalev and Grayden Siepmann were credited with the helpers.

Shots favored the Blades 13-10 after twenty minutes.

Saskatoon would extend their lead just 0:42 into the second period as Easton Armstrong would strike for his 34th goal of the season. Fraser Minten and Alexander Suzdalev provided the assists.

Blade captain Trevor Wong would record his 100th point of the season just six seconds into the third period. On a power play that carried over from the second period, Saskatoon would win the opening faceoff of the final frame and Wong would streak up the left wing and fire a shot past Raider netminder Nathan Preston for his 15th goal of the season. Easton Armstrong got the assist.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Fraser Minten would strike for his 22nd goal of the season at the 11:52 mark of the third season. Easton Armstrong had the lone helper.

Justice Christensen blocked numerous shots for the Raiders on the evening, including three power play one timers from Blade sniper Egor Sidorov.

Truitt says the Raider assistant captain did an excellent job of setting a good example heading into the postseason.

“(He’s) just an unbelievable warrior. He does everything for the team, and it’s a team first thing. He puts his body on the line. He’s strong and he’s physical, but you just saw here tonight the reason why he’s one of our leaders because he took some big shots from a real good shooter, one of the best shooters in the Western Hockey League. When you’ve got a guy that’s staring down at that and willing to do it, it means everything.”

With less than a minute to go in regulation, Sidorov would strike for his 50th goal of the season to add insurance for the Blades.

Nathan Preston made 22 saves for Prince Albert, Evan Gardner made 27 stops for Saskatoon.

Game 1 of the first round WHL playoff series between Saskatoon and Prince Albert goes at 7 p.m. on Thursday night from the SaskTel Centre. See Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Herald for a full, in-depth playoff preview.