The Prince Albert Raiders needed a win to stave off elimination and stay in the WHL playoff race and they were able to do exactly that with a 4-3 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings at Westoba Place.
A strong first period got the Raiders off on the right foot with a pair of goals in the opening frame. Raider head coach Jeff Truitt felt the Raiders made smart decisions in the puck in the first period.
“I really thought our guys were using our speed to our advantage. We were really good at opening up seams to putting pucks in good areas to get it back. I thought for the most part we were in control of that first period due to our speed and our awareness. Our awareness of our puck movement was really good that period.”
16-year-old rookie wonder Ryder Ritchie would get the Raiders on the board first at the 8:09 mark of the first period. Ritchie would be sprung on a breakaway thanks to a strong feed from Aiden Oiring and Ryder would make no mistake for his 20th goal and 50th point on the campaign. Seth Tansem also had an assist on the play.
Truitt says it is a great accomplishment to record 50 points as a rookie in the WHL.
“It takes a special player to do that. There is no doubt. The confidence in your abilities and meeting the challenges. Not being in awe of anything or anybody, there’s a lot of good players in this league but he is proving himself every game that he is a scoring threat. He enjoys that end of the game. To get 20 goals and 50 points as a 16-year-old is pretty good.”
Prince Albert would double the lead with Sloan Stanick’s 25th goal of the season coming at the 14:31 mark of the opening frame. Landon Kosior picked up an assist. Also on the play, Tikhon Chaika picked up his first WHL point after being credited with an assist on the goal.
Shots favored the Raiders 10-9 after the first period.
Brandon would come out strong in the second period as it would take the Wheat Kings just 0:39 to get on the board as Nate Danielson would fire a shot between the pads of Tikhon Chaika to cut the Raider lead to 2-1. Quinn Mantei and Kayden Sahdra-Kang assisted on the play.
Brandon would outshoot the Raiders 16-7 in the second period, but could not find the back of the net for the second time in the contest.
Truitt says the Raiders showed resolve and composure throughout a tough second period.
“I thought that once we gave up that goal, they hemmed us in a little bit. We were light on pucks and weren’t physical enough in our zone. We hung in there positionally and kept them to the outside for the most part. We bent but we didn’t break. That was a huge thing for us to stick with it. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty but you rely on your structure to win those shifts and we did that.”
Carter Anderson would double the Raider lead with his 12th goal of the season coming at the 8:48 mark of the third period. Cole Peardon would make a nifty feed to Anderson, who had plenty of space to rifle a shot past Wheat King netminder Carson Bjarnason. Ryder Ritchie also had an assist on the play.
But just over a minute later, Andrei Malyavin would cut the lead back to one with his sixth goal of the season. Kayden Sahdra-Kang picked up an assist for his second point of the night on the play.
Sloan Stanick would once again score a highlight reel goal against the Brandon Wheat Kings to give the Raiders a 4-2 advantage at the 17:37 mark.
THe Wheat Kings would add another courtesy of Nolan Ritchie less than a minute later, but that would be as close as they would get.
Tikhon Chaika made several critical saves for the Raiders throughout the hockey game as the Belarusian netminder seemed to turn into a brick wall for several stretches making 36 saves on 39 shots.
Truitt credits his netminder as being the difference for the Raiders in the hockey game.
“He made a point blank save in the third period that could have swayed things. Guy was left alone in front of the net and he made a glove save. That was a monumental save. In the first period, we gave up two or three breakaways that he stood tall on. He was definitely the difference for us for sure.”
Carson Bjarnason made 17 saves in net for Brandon in the loss.
The Raiders return to action on Saturday night when they travel to Wayne Fleming arena on the University of Manitoba campus to take on the Winnipeg ICE. Puck drops at 7 p.m.