Hildebrand shines as Raiders pull out narrow victory over Portland

Herald file photo.

The Prince Albert Raiders picked up a statement downing the Portland Winterhawks 2-1 on Saturday night at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Raiders held the high flying Winterhawks to a single goal in the contest. Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says Prince Albert did a good job of limiting high quality looks for Portland.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping it to the outside here tonight.  We knew that they were going to be fast and tenacious. In the third period, I thought we had three really good looks that we could have buried, but we didn’t. Hildebrand was the name of the game here for us tonight and preserved the 2-1 win.” 

Prince Albert would open the scoring early in the first period as Oli Chenier would strike 4:06 into the first period with his second goal of the season. A sharp angle shot beat Winterhawk netminder Jan Spunar. The goal would be unassisted.

The Raider penalty kill unit was on point, holding the Winterhawks off the board on all four of their power play opportunities. Entering the contest Portland had the third ranked power play in the WHL converting at a 28.6% clip.

“The special teams are a huge thing and the penalty kill did a real good job of blocking shots and clearing pucks where we needed to. There were some extended shifts where we didn’t pressure. They got multiple shots going because they are a shooting type of team. It was certainly one of those difference makers here tonight.”

Shots in the first period favored Portland 12-9.

The two sides would exchange tallies in the second period. Portland would finally break through at the 8:20 mark as Nicholas Johnson would beat Max Hildebrand blocker side on an odd man rush. Marcus Nguyen and Jack O’Brien assisted on the play.

Krzysztof Macias would restore the Raider lead at the 11:00 mark putting a rebound home on the doorstep for his 10th goal of the campaign. Niall Crocker and Justice Christensen assisted on the play.

That would be all the goal support that Max Hildebrand would need as he would make 37 saves to earn his 8th victory of the season. 

Truitt says Hildebrand was dialed in and turned in one of his best performances of the season.

“It’s got to be close (to his best). Against a team like this that has a lot of firepower and a lot of depth. they’ve got three lines that can really go when they play that high-paced game. And even in small areas, they can jump into areas that get quality shots. I thought he was on the top of this game for sure.”

The Raiders close up the U.S. Division road trip on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Wenatchee Wild for the first time in franchise history. Puck drops at 6 p.m. Saskatchewan time