Habscheid earns 500th career WHL win as Raiders outlast Hurricanes

Photo courtesy of the Prince Albert Raiders Prince Albert Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid poses with the team after he earned his 500th career WHL win Saturday night in Lethbridge.

It was another history making night for the Prince Albert Raiders as head coach Marc Habscheid picked up his 500th career win in the Western Hockey League Saturday.

However, the long-time bench boss didn’t know that he was joining a list of seven others who had achieved that milestone after the Raiders picked up a 6-5 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the ENMAX Centre.

“I honestly had no clue,” Habscheid said. “I went into the dressing room to tell the guys they did a good job and they all said ‘Hey, where are you going?’ as I was about to head out the door.

“(Cole) Fonstad was wearing our player of the game top hat and he put it on me. Then they gave me the game puck and I got a nice group photo with the boys. Now we’re going for ice cream.”

Saturday’s back and forth contest was a dramatic contrast from the last two road wins for the Raiders, as they were coming off of a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings Monday and an 8-2 triumph over the Calgary Hitmen Friday.

“It wasn’t an easy game,” Habscheid said. “Lethbridge has some really good depth up front and we were out three pretty good guys (Brett Leason, Justin Nachbaur and Ian Scott) on our end, so it was a bit of a gut check for us.

“Boston (Bilous) is a good goalie, but he had a tough night and we had to overcome some tough goals. With that said, the guys were able to battle back and overcame some adversity, which is the type of game that you want to see going into the playoffs.”

Cole Fonstad led the way for the 45-7-0-2 Raiders with a pair of goals, including the game-winner with 6:37 to go in regulation.

Max Martin and Noah Gregor dished out a pair of helpers, while Parker Kelly had a goal and an assist for the visitors as they won their fourth straight game.

Ozzy Weisblatt, Eric Pearce and Sean Montgomery also scored in the triumph, which saw Bilous turn aside 29 shots.

“The way we spread out our scoring tonight is something that we try do on a regular basis,” Habscheid said.

“As we get ready for the playoffs, you need to be depending on everybody and it’s always good when you have different guys stepping up.”

The Hurricanes, who have lost three straight games and sit third in the Central Division with a 27-16-5-5 mark, received a three-assist performance from Nick Henry and a two-goal showing from Jake Leschyshyn.

Taylor Ross had a pair of assists for the hosts, while blueliner Ty Prefontaine had a goal and an assist each.

Igor Merezhko and Jake Elmer also scored in the loss, which saw goaltender Carl Tetachuk make 31 saves.

The league-leading Raiders will conclude their four-game road trip Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos before they return to the Art Hauser Centre for a Friday night matchup with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Post-Game Notes

With Saturday’s triumph, Marc Habscheid joined the following coaches in the 500-win club.

  • Don Hay – 750
  • Ken Hodge – 742
  • Don Nachbaur – 692
  • Lorne Molleken – 626
  • Mike Williamson – 572
  • Ernie McLean – 548
  • Pat Ginnell – 518

Red Deer Rebels head coach Brent Sutter is also on the verge of joining that list as he is sitting on 496 victories.

Habscheid is also five games away from becoming the eighth coach in WHL history to be behind the bench for 1,000 games, a milestone he can reach at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday, Feb. 22 against the Kootenay Ice.

Saturday’s win was the sixth in a row for the Raiders over the Hurricanes, as they now hold a 3-0 advantage in the season series.

Noah Gregor increased his point streak to six straight games during the contest, while Cole Fonstad and Sean Montgomery have each been on the scoresheet in the last five games.

The Raiders were without the services of Ian Scott, Justin Nachbaur and Brett Leason Saturday, which meant that goaltender Brett Balas and forward Tyson Laventure were called up for the contest.

Nachbaur was serving the third and final game of a suspension for a post-game fight with Moose Jaw’s Tristin Langan last Saturday, while Leason is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury after his collision with Calgary Hitmen netminder Jack McNaughton Friday.

Scott, who has appeared in 39 games for the Raiders this year, was given a rare night off.

The Hurricanes did not dress blueliners Rylan Thiessen and Alex Cotton, along with forward Adam Hall.

Saturday’s Scores

  • Saskatoon 4 Swift Current 1 (Max Gerlach – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Moose Jaw 2 Red Deer 1 (Adam Evanoff – 47 Saves)
  • Kelowna 4 Kamloops 1 (Lassi Thomson – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Seattle 4 Medicine Hat 3 (Matthew Wedman Overtime Winner – Andrej Kukuca – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick – Ryan Jevne – Three Assists)
  • Spokane 5 Kootenay 2 (Jack Finley – Two Goals)
  • Victoria 7 Tri-City 4 (D-Jay Jerome – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Everett 5 Portland 0 (Silvertips Clinch Playoff Spot for 16th Straight Season – Jake Christiansen – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick – Dustin Wolf – 29 Saves – Sixth Shutout This Season and 10th Career)

Pre-Game Notes

Wednesday’s meeting at the Credit Union iPlex will be the fifth of the season between the East Division rivals, with the Raiders currently holding a 3-1 advantage in the season series.

Following a 4-1 home setback to the Saskatoon Blades as part of Hockey Day in Canada Saturday, the Broncos are currently mired in a five-game losing streak and sit at the bottom of the WHL standings with a 10-38-2-2 mark.

Rookie forward Ben King is the only long-term injury for the Broncos, as he’s currently sidelined for two to four weeks with an upper body injury he sustained in early January.

Prince Albert’s Ethan Regnier leads the team in scoring with 26 points in 52 games, while former Minto and fellow local product Alex Moar has 15 points in 40 games in his rookie campaign in the league.

Sunday’s Schedule

  • Brandon vs. Saskatoon – 4 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Vancouver – 4 p.m.
  • Moose Jaw vs. Calgary – 5 p.m.
  • Regina vs. Edmonton – 5 p.m.
  • Medicine Hat vs. Portland – 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s Schedule

  • Tri City vs. Seattle – 9 p.m.
  • Red Deer vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.

Wednesday’s Schedule

  • Edmonton vs. Brandon – 7 p.m.
  • Prince Albert vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
  • Saskatoon vs. Medicine Hat – 8 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Kamloops – 9 p.m.
  • Red Deer vs. Everett – 9 p.m.