For The Kids: Raiders rebound with win over Brandon

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Sloan Stanick of the Prince Albert Raiders handles the puck during Saturday night WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre

The Prince Albert Raiders needed to get back into the win column, and they did exactly that, downing the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-2 at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday night.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says that Prince Albert was able to take advantage of a road weary opposition.

“We needed it. We need to play desperate. We knew that they had the tough schedule with a three-in-three, which is always hard to play with a short bench as well. We had to take advantage of it and we did.”

Brandon would open the scoring on the power play at the 16:05 mark. After a fortunate bounce at the Raider blue line, Dominik Petr would bury his 15th goal of the season. Brady Turko and Matteo Michels picked up the helpers on the play.

Entering play, Brandon was tied for the worst power play in the WHL, converting at a 19.0% clip on the man advantage this season. 

The Raiders would respond with their own power play goal at the 18:00 mark of the first period with Aiden Oiring redirecting a Justice Christensen point shot over the left shoulder of Brandon netminder Carson Bjarnason to even up the score. 

“He’s way more comfortable this year than what he was last year.” Truitt explained about Oiring. “He’s moving pucks, he’s carrying pucks. He’s using his speed and his agility real well. It’s not only play with the puck, but it’s play without the puck. He’s putting himself in good areas where if he receives the puck, now he’s got time and space to make plays. That’s just hockey IQ and it’s evolved. He’s a key contributor for us right now. 

In the second period, the Raider power play would give Prince Albert their first lead of the contest at the 7:44 mark. Sloan Stanick would rifle home his 25th goal of the season to give Prince Albert their first lead of the contest. Krzysztof Macias and Aiden Oiring picked up the helpers.

Shots favored Prince Albert 19-12 after forty minutes.

Turner McMillen would double the Raider lead at the 4:38 mark of the third period with his eighth goal of the season, sixth in a Prince Albert sweater. Ryder Ritchie and Macias assisted on the play.

After a check to the head minor against Luke Shipley and a delay of game call on Wheat King captain Brett Hyland, the Raider power play would strike for the third time in the game.

Stanick would strike for his second goal of the contest on the five-on-three to extend the Raider lead to 4-1. Oiring and Christensen assisted on the play.

Petr would claw the Wheat Kings within two with a short handed goal at the 13:14 mark. Quinn Mantei and Brett Hyland assisted on the play.

Mere seconds later, Sloan Stanick would finish off the hat trick with his third goal of the night and 27th goal of the campaign. Christensen and Macias picked up the helpers.

With the Raiders wearing special jerseys with elements drawn by children in the Victoria Hospital as part of Kids Takeover Night, Stanick says the hat trick and the win had special meaning for the Raiders.

“It obviously felt good. We were playing for those young kids that are really sick. We all went out and played for them. It was really special to get the win and get a few photos with them. I know it made their day, and that’s all we could ask for.”

With the win, Prince Albert improves to 22-0-1-0 when holding a lead after forty minutes of play this season.

Truitt says the Raiders will need to defend leads down the stretch during the playoff chase.

“You’ve got to be able to lock it down and you’ve got to be able to come from behind if you’re behind. But playing good defense and the right structure comes with sacrifice. You’ve got to block shots, you’ve got to take hits to make plays, it’s all about success in the defensive zone. Structure means everything, you’re reading (and) reacting. Communication means an awful lot and that to me has been probably one of our best attributes here over a long period of time that we’ve been able to do that.”

Carson Bjarnason made 29 saves for Brandon, while Max Hildebrand turned aside 15 Wheat King shots for the Raiders.

Prince Albert returns to action on Wednesday night when they welcome the Red Deer Rebels to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.