Four-goal second period powers Raiders past Pats

Photo Courtesy of Keith Hershmiller/WHL Prince Albert Raiders forward Justin Nachbaur, left, turns around to see his deflected shot in the back of the Regina Pats net on Tuesday night at the Brandt Centre.

Once the Prince Albert Raiders offence got rolling on Tuesday night, it was hard for the Regina Pats to slow them down.

The Raiders scored four times in nearly five-and-a-half minutes during the second period of play as they would go on to pick up a 4-2 victory over the Pats at the Brandt Centre.

“I thought that was one of our best team games so far here,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We’ve lost a key defenceman with Nolan Allan leaving (for the World Under-18’s) and I thought our young guys did a good job of stepping up on the blueline and moving the puck up the ice.”

“We’ve been competing a lot harder here over the last couple of games,” Raiders forward Tyson Laventure added. “We’re starting to figure out our systems a lot better and we’ve been playing a better team game out there.”

It was the Raiders fourth line that did the majority of the damage on offence as they picked up their second straight win.

Laventure and Logan Linklater had a goal and an assist each, while Niall Crocker dished out a pair of helpers.

“They are starting to create some good chemistry and they are able to read off of one another,” Habscheid said.

“Laventure’s got a pretty good shot as you saw on his goal, Linklater’s the guy that sets the table and Crocker’s still finding his way here as a 16-year-old. They made some big plays for us tonight and that’s good to see.”

Linklater’s goal was his first in the Western Hockey League as he snapped a seven-game point drought that started after he recorded his first two assists in a Raiders uniform on March 27 against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

“I just closed my eyes and screamed,” Linklater said when asked about his reaction to finding the back of the net. “It felt so good to get that out of the way.

“I felt like I was getting chances and opportunities to score, but I just couldn’t bury the puck or find a way to push through and get that goal. To finally be able to score one is a big weight off of my shoulders.”

Remy Aquilon continued his impressive campaign with a pair of assists, while Evan Herman and Justin Nachbaur both lit the lamp and Max Paddock turned aside 18 shots to help the Raiders improve their record to 6-8-2-1.

While the Pats struggled at times to generate offence, which caused their radio announcers Phil Andrews and Evan Daum to discuss the Subway menu at length, they were able to close the gap with a pair of goals in the final minutes.

Blueliner Ryker Evans extended his point streak to seven games with a goal and an assist, while Logan Nijhoff stopped Paddock’s shutout bid by converting a feed from Carter Chorney.

Rookie netminder Matthew Kieper turned in a strong showing as he made 37 saves for the 6-8-2-1 Pats, who have lost their last two games.

“He prepares himself the right way all the time and I think that’s allowed him to perform as he has when he’s gotten in there,” Pats head coach Dave Struch said of Kieper’s performance during a post-game press conference.

The Raiders will be back in action on Thursday at 8 p.m. as they’ll go up against the Moose Jaw Warriors for the third time this season.

Post-Game Notes

Prince Albert product Tanner Howe made his league debut for the Pats on Tuesday as he recorded a shot on goal while playing on the fourth line with rookies Easton Armstrong and Braxton Whitehead.

“I was a bit nervous at the start, but once you get a shift or two in, it’s good,” Howe said in a post-game press conference.

Howe, who was a fourth round pick by the Pats in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft, signed a contract with the club last month.

Raiders blueliner Tayem Gislason picked up his first WHL point on Tuesday night as he had an assist on Justin Nachbaur’s 2-0 goal in the middle stanza.

The only blemish of the night for Prince Albert came with 6:59 to go in the third period as blueliner Landon Kosior received a five-minute major penalty for a check to the head and a game misconduct following a hit on Pats forward Zack Smith.

Smith, who was on the Pats top line with Carson Denomie and Logan Nijhoff, did not return to the ice after the play.

Ryker Evans’ two-point night moved him into sole possession of second place in WHL defensive scoring with 20 points in 17 games and is now two markers back of Medicine Hat’s Cole Clayton for the league lead.

Ozzy Wiesblatt’s five-game scoring streak, which saw him dish out eight assists, came to an end on Tuesday.

In the league’s Internet Era, the longest point streak for the Raiders that came only on assists was in the 2003-04 season when blueliner Travis Young had an eight-game run of form where he helped out on 12 goals.

Logan Danis, Kaiden Guhle, Nolan Allan, Tre Fouquette and Max Hildebrandt did not dress for the Raiders on Tuesday, while the Pats were without the services of Colby Wotton, Jakob Brook, Connor Bedard, Jacob Dewitt, Jake Johnson, Marcus Taylor and Roddy Ross.

Monday’s Scores

  • Winnipeg 3 Regina 1 (Connor McClennon – Two Goals)
  • Lethbridge 8 Red Deer 5 (Justin Hall – Two Goals and Three Assists)
  • Prince George 4 Vancouver 1 (Craig Armstrong – Four Goals – First Career Hat Trick)

Tuesday’s Scores

  • Brandon 8 Moose Jaw 3 (Braden Schneider – Three Assists)
  • Seattle 4 Tri-City 2 (Nico Myatovic – Two Goals in his WHL Debut)
  • Spokane 4 Everett 3 (Eli Zummack – One Goal and Three Assists)

Around the WHL

It was a good news day for the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Kelowna Rockets as both teams were cleared to return to on-ice activities on Tuesday.

The Tigers were sidelined this past weekend after they were deemed to be a close contact of the Calgary Hitmen, who they played two weeks ago and were found to have a positive COVID-19 test in their team cohort.

The Hitmen have yet to be cleared to return to the ice.

Meanwhile, the Rockets were in a league-mandated 14-day isolation period following the discovery of a positive COVID-19 test in their cohort on March 30 and seven additional positive tests shortly after.

After resuming practices on Wednesday, the Rockets are scheduled to face the Prince George Cougars on Saturday in Kamloops.

The Tigers next game will be on Friday night as they’ll entertain the Red Deer Rebels.

In other news, former Tigers netminder Mads Sogaard signed an entry level contract with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old from Denmark, who was a second round pick by Ottawa in 2019, recorded a 40-21-6 record with a 2.58 goals against average, a .915 save percentage and seven shutouts during his two seasons in Medicine Hat.

Sogaard stayed in his home country this year to play for the Esbjerg Energy, where he had a 10-5-1 record with a 2.58 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.

Pre-Game Notes

The 7-9-1-0 Warriors enter Thursday’s meeting with the Raiders on a two-game losing streak, but they have split their previous two meetings with their provincial rivals this season.

Minnesota Wild draft pick and Warriors captain Daemon Hunt is currently fifth in defensive scoring in the WHL with 14 points in 16 games, which is one off the total he had during an injury-shortened 2019-20 campaign.

Rookie forward Brayden Yager, who was the third overall pick in last year’s WHL Bantam Draft, has 13 points in 17 games is tied for fourth with Winnipeg’s Zachary Benson in scoring by first-year players.

Logan Doust, Cory King and Calder Anderson all missed Tuesday’s game with the Brandon Wheat Kings with upper body injuries.

Wednesday’s Schedule

  • Saskatoon vs. Swift Current – 4 p.m.
  • Spokane vs. Portland – 6 p.m.
  • Winnipeg vs. Brandon – 8 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Kamloops – 8 p.m.

Thursday’s Schedule

  • Regina vs. Saskatoon – 4 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Lethbridge – 7 p.m.
  • Moose Jaw vs. Prince Albert – 8 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Vancouver – 8 p.m.