Hansen’s OT winner helps Blades edge Raiders

It was a back and forth affair, but an undisciplined second period cost the Prince Albert Raiders falling 4-3 in overtime to the Saskatoon Blades.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says the team played well to start, but can’t afford to dig themselves into further deficits.

“First period was great, I thought that we skated and moved the puck real well. We had momentum. Second period the penalties obviously changed momentum. They got a lot of life out of it on the 5-on-3s. Third period was a dogfight and we found ways. We battle back to 3-3. You never like losing, but the way that we’ve came back was good, but we can’t put ourselves behind the eight ball this much.”

The Raiders would strike first in the contest as rookie defenseman Justice Christensen found the back of the net on the power play to put the Raiders up 1-0 after one period of play.

Truitt says he thought Christensen played a strong game.

“I thought he was outstanding. He controlled the puck an awful lot. You can see his vision, his mobility, his confidence with the puck. He’s a good player.”

The second period was not kind to the Raiders. Four different players saw themselves in the penalty box and Saskatoon found the back of the net three times in the middle frame, including two goals scored on powerplays.

Trevor Wong struck at the 5:40 mark while Dallyn Peekeekoot and Terrell Goldsmith were in the penalty box serving minor penalties. Less than two minutes later, Vaughn Watterodt found the back of the net while Tre Fouquette was serving a minor for cross checking. Immediately following the Watterodt goal, Trevor Thurston was off to the penalty box with a double minor spearing penalty putting the Raiders down two men for 1:40.

Truitt says the team was undisciplined in the second but learned a valuable lesson.

“I thought that we took some unnecessary penalties. But we’ve addressed it. We all know it. Our leadership understands that. It should be handled by the leadership. I thought they did a good job and they changed the momentum in the third period”

Saskatoon didn’t score on the second 5-on-3 power play but Spencer Shugrue bested Tikhon Chaika at the 13:29 mark to extend the Blade lead to 3-1.

Heading into the third period trailing by two, the Raiders rallied back. Just over two minutes in, Trevor Thurston would redeem himself from the spearing double minor by finding the back of the net for his second of the pre-season. 3 minutes later, Justice Christensen would pick up his second goal of the contest to even the score at 3-3. The Raider defenceman said he was happy to pick up his first two WHL pre-season goals.

“First one, I think it bounced off one of our guys and went in. I was pretty excited. Second one felt good to tie it up in the third. I was pretty happy with that one.”

Overtime was even to start, but a tremendous piece of eye-hand coordination by Saskatoon’s Lukas Hansen was the difference. The Blade forward re-directed a falling puck in mid-air that surprised Raider goaltender Tikhon Chaika to end the hockey game and give Saskatoon a 4-3 victory.

The Prince Albert Raiders open the 2022-2023 WHL season next Friday, Sept. 23 when the Saskatoon Blades visit the Art Hauser Centre.

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