The Saskatoon Blades spoiled the Prince Albert Raiders home opener with a 5-2 win on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre.
Five rookies made their Western Hockey League debuts for Prince Albert. Head coach Jeff Truitt says those players saw the reality of the WHL.
“They’re seeing a different level from exhibition. There’s a lot of learning that has to go on. It’s a process, it’s game one. They’re finding out the game gets harder when all the teams sort of find their rosters.”
It didn’t take long for Saskatoon to jump ahead as Aidan De La Gorgendiere found the back of the net 2:53 into the hockey game to give the Blades the early advantage.
Terrell Goldsmith gave the Raider faithful something to cheer about as the defenceman dropped the gloves with Saskatoon’s Justin Lies at the 6:02 that revitalized the Prince Albert crowd.
However, Saskatoon would get the last laugh as Egor Sidorov would score at the 11:34 mark to give the Blades a 2-0 lead after the first period. Saskatoon outshot Prince Albert 11-9 in the opening frame.
Prince Albert would come storming back in the second period as Trevor Thurston redirected a puck just outside the crease to bring the Raiders within one at the 7:52 mark.
Terrell Goldsmith, fresh off a fight win earlier in the hockey game, gave Prince Albert exactly what they needed as he would score on the power play at the 17:29 mark to tie the game at 2.
Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says even though the Raiders started slow, there were some promising signs.
“We’re down 2-0 and we get two goals from defencemen. Some of the young kids made some good subtle plays. They’re finding it quicker, I thought the kids sometimes made some good plays in the offensive zone to sustain some offensive zone time for us. We’re right there with them.”
There was plenty of physicality between the rivals, as there was plenty of extracurricular activity after many whistles throughout the night. Overage forward Evan Herman was in the middle of it for the Raiders.
Truitt says he was impressed by Herman’s showing.
“He’s a determined player, he plays with speed. He can drive a line. When he shoots the puck, usually good things happen. I thought he was one of our best forwards here tonight.”
Herman earned 4 penalty minutes in the contest. He says he needs to control his emotions better to play physical, but stay out of the penalty box.
“It’s a high emotional game. I let my emotions slip a little bit there. It’s part of the game. It’s better if I can keep them in check. I think the better off we will be.”
The scoresheet came up golden for the Blades in the third period as Saskatoon found the back of the net three times in the final frame.
Prince Albert appeared to score early in the third period, but it was waved off by the officials. After that, Saskatoon took the reins.
Egor Sidorov would notch his second goal of the contest and the game-winner at the 7:57 mark. Charlie Wright would add an insurance goal at 17:46 and Vaughn Watterodt would an empty netter in the 5-2 win for the Saskatoon Blades
Prince Albert will be back in action Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre for the second leg of a home and home series with the Saskatoon Blades. The Raiders return home on Wednesday night when they host the Winnipeg ICE at the Art Hauser Centre.