Cardiac kids: Raiders win shootout thriller over Blades to close pre-season

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The Prince Albert Raiders celebrate a goal in the second period of WHL pre-season action Saturday night in Warman.

The Prince Albert Raiders finished out the 2023 WHL pre-season on a high note with a 4-3 shootout win over the Saskatoon Blades at the Warman Home Centre Communiplex on Saturday night.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says Prince Albert battled throughout the night on route to the victory.

“We got up 2-0, and I thought our energy was good at the start. The game started at 2-2 and you got to grind some things out. We took some penalties and had some looks on the power play. We had a more of a shooting mentality tonight then last night, just couldn’t pick up the second opportunities.Penalty kill was really good for the most part. I really like our intensity and focus all night long. We battled from start to finish. It was a good complete game, it was a game that showed our character and our resolve.”

THe Blades and Raiders would play a back and forth first period with each team potting a pair of goals.

Sloan Stanick would get the Raiders on the board just 0:14 in with an unassisted marker. Aiden Oiring would double the lead nearly 10 minutes later. Ryder Ritchie had the lone assist.

Saskatoon would storm back as Lukas Hansen would score at the 12:00 mark. Fraser Leonard had the lone assist.

Jayden Wiens would strike just over two minutes later at the 14:25 mark to knot the score at two apiece. Trevor Wong and Jordan Keller assisted on the play. 

Wiens’ second tally of the night would come unassisted 12:04 into the second period to give Saskatoon their first lead of the hockey game.

Oli Chenier would strike back for the Raiders at the 18:34 mark to tie the game at 3-3. Luke Moroz would have the lone assist on the play.

Both teams would have opportunities in the third period and overtime, but neither could convert as the game would head into a shootout.

Prince Albert’s Aiden Oiring, Ryder Ritchie and Sloan Stanick would all convert on their shootout opportunities. Saskatoon’s Trevor Wong and Jordan Keller would find the back of the net, but overager Spencer Shugrue would be stopped by Hildebrand, who made 27 saves in goal for Prince Albert.

The game was played in front of an energetic crowd, announced at 1,100. Although the game was on a neutral, the fans in attendance swayed towards cheering for the Blades giving the game a similar atmosphere to playing on the road for Prince Albert.

Truitt says the Raiders had great composure through the evening.

“We had to. In Big River, they were on our side and the home games were great in our building. It was nice to get on the road and really grind one out against a team that’s got a lot of speed. We stuck to it and it takes a shootout to do it. It’s a different way that we win, but the end result is that our guys grinded it out and we showed a lot of character.”

A shootout is unfamiliar territory for the Prince Albert Raiders. Last season, the Raiders did not play a single game that was decided by the format. The last time Prince Albert had been in a shootout prior to Saturday was December 11, 2021. Ozzy Weisblatt and Landon Kosior scored in the shootout to win it for the Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre that night.

Truitt says he knew the Raiders had to be sharp in the shootout with the talent Saskatoon offers.

“I knew with their shooters, you got to be at your best against Wong and their other guys. We got some pretty good shooters too and our guys buried theirs. It was good to go through a tight game and go into overtime and felt the adversity with the penalty. It was good to get going with the shootout and come out on top.”

With the win, Prince Albert finishes the 2023 WHL Pre-season with a perfect 4-0-0-0 record. The Raiders open the 2023-24 WHL campaign on Friday, Sept. 22 when they will welcome the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.