Four goal first period sinks Raiders in road loss to Blades

Photo by Darren Steinke. Prince Albert Raiders forward Niall Crocker and Saskatoon Blades forward Jordan Keller compete for a puck during WHL action at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon

The Prince Albert Raiders couldn’t stop the early Saskatoon Blades onslaught as they fell 6-1 to their division rival on Friday night at the SaskTel Centre

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he wasn’t impressed with how the Raiders started.

“Not very good. When you give up four goals on eight shots in the first period. It’s not a start that you want. Some of the goals that we gave up, we gave up a lot of in tight goals where we lost battles in front of the net and things like that. They gained momentum. They were quick and we were kind of looking around and positionally we were a half step behind, against these teams you got to make sure you are preventing and not reacting. If you react, they get free looks and that’s exactly what happened.”

Saskatoon would strike four times in the opening frame, the first coming off the tape of Tanner Molendyk just 0:41 into the hockey game. Vaughn Watterodt would pick up the lone assist.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Brandon Lisowsky would double the Saskatoon lead with his 22nd goal of the season coming at the 6:53 mark on the power play. Aiden De La Gorgendiere and Egor Sidorov assisted on the goal.

Misha Volotovskii would then score two times within twenty-eight seconds. The first goal would come at the 15:33 mark assisted by Vaughn Watterodt and Connor Roulette.

At 16:01 Volotovskii would strike again to give the Blades a 4-0 advantage. Saunderson and Rowan Calvert would receive assists on the play.

For the second consecutive game, the Raiders would make a goaltending change, the fourth Blade goal would also chase Raider starting netminder Max Hildebrand, who stopped 5 of 9 Saskatoon shots. Tikhon Chaika took over the Raider crease for the remainder of the game.

Truitt says the change was simply an attempt to regain momentum and nothing against the play of Hildebrand

“We’ll dissect this and meet tomorrow morning and go from there. I certainly don’t fault Max on this whatsoever. There are guys in front of him that have to do a better job being harder and shutting down corners and not give up quality looks in the net front. Four goals on eight shots, we had to change something and it certainly wasn’t his fault.”

Just 2:00 into the second, Saskatoon would strike again courtesy of Egor Sidorov. The 18-year-old product of Vietbsk, Belarus would score his 25th goal in only 30 games to give the Blades a 5-0 advantage.

The Raiders would fight back as Sloan Stanick would notch his 17th goal of the campaign at the 9:15 mark of the second period. Evan Herman and Seth Tansem would be credited with the assists on the goal.

Before the end of the period, Jordan Keller would strike for his 7th goal of the season to restore the five goal Blade lead a 6-1 at the 16:55 mark of the second period. De La Gorgendiere and Molendyk would be credited with assists.

Neither team would score in the third period.

It was the first game back in the Raider lineup for Landon Kosior, as the overage defenseman since Jan. 4 against the Calgary Hitmen.

Truitt says Kosior was able to transition nicely back into the lineup

“I think he did fine. He was initiating the speed and the breakouts. You can tell he never lost a lot of his composure or puck skills. He sure got us out of trouble a couple times with good plays and his skating. We certainly missed him and it was good to have him back.”

Ethan Chadwick would earn the win in net for Saskatoon stopping 17 of 18 Raider shots.

The Raiders now have dropped all five decisions against Saskatoon so far this season, Truitt says that Prince Albert needs to play better defensively to take a victory.

“Defensively, we got to be better. We got to be harder. Can’t give up the big plays against their speed. You tighten up that way, when you chase this team you are in trouble. Some of the mis reads in the areas of the ice you can’t give up shots against. In the middle of ice in your own zone. That’s the zone you’ve got to defend. That’s a dangerous club and that’s going to be a focal point tomorrow.”

The Raiders and Blades return to action Saturday as they will conclude with a home-and-home series at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7pm.