Hitmen hang on to edge Raiders

Daily Herald File Photo Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Remy Aquilon battles for position with Calgary Hitmen forward Mark Kastelic at the Art Hauser Centre earlier this season.

Unlike Wednesday’s dramatic 4-3 overtime triumph over the Medicine Hat Tigers, a late flurry did not result in two points for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Zack Hayes hit the crossbar and Reece Vitelli was turned aside by Brayden Peters in tight during the final two minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome as the Calgary Hitmen edged out the defending Western Hockey League champions in a 2-1 affair.

The Raiders, who saw a four-game win streak and a 12-game run where they had earned at least a point end on Friday, peppered the Hitmen net with 17 shots in the final frame but were unable to solve Peters.

“We were okay,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “The two goals that they got we gave to them, but outside of that I thought we carried most of the play.

“Our scoring hasn’t been great lately and we need certain guys in our top six to step up and start scoring. That’s just the way it is. They aren’t scoring at the moment and we need them to.”

Habscheid had similar thoughts about his team’s top two lines on Wednesday in Medicine Hat, as he felt that the Raiders’ best forwards weren’t their best players until the final 15 seconds.

“You’ve got to be involved and you’re not going to score if you’re not wanting to be involved in contact,” Habscheid said.

“If you don’t want to get scuffed up, you’re not going to score. It’s pretty simple and that’s the nicest way I can put it.”

Brayden Watts had the lone goal for the 28-15-5-4 Raiders, who remain four points ahead of the Winnipeg Ice in the East Division standings.

Max Paddock turned aside 26 shots as he suffered his first regulation loss since he was acquired from the Regina Pats on Jan. 9.

Josh Prokop and Riley Fiddler-Schultz both found the back of the net for the 28-16-4-1 Hitmen, who won their second straight game and are now eight points back of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Medicine Hat Tigers for second place in the Central Division.

Peters made 39 saves on his way to earning first star honours.

The Raiders will conclude their four-game road trip on Saturday evening as they will take on the Hurricanes.

They will return to the Art Hauser Centre next Friday to face the Swift Current Broncos.

Post-Game Notes

Friday’s contest was the first in a Hitmen uniform for overage forward Kyle Olson, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans on Jan. 2.

The 20-year-old Calgary product, who had 14 points in 16 games for the Americans, last played on Nov. 23 against the Kelowna Rockets and had been sidelined since that game with a lower body injury.

Tyson Laventure was the lone scratch for the Raiders, while the Hitmen did not dress Andrew Viggars, Egor Zamula, Devan Klassen and Conrad Mitchell.

Friday’s Scores

  • Medicine Hat 3 Brandon 2 (Brett Kemp Overtime Winner – Mads Sogaard – 27 Saves)
  • Edmonton 2 Red Deer 1 (Jake Neighbours – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Portland 7 Kelowna 3 (Seth Jarvis – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Regina 4 Swift Current 2 (Carson Denomie – Two Goals)
  • Everett 5 Tri-City 0 (Jake Christiansen – One Goal and One Assist – Dustin Wolf – 18 Saves – Seventh Shutout This Season and 18th Career)
  • Victoria 3 Kamloops 2 (Brandon Cutler – Two Goals)

Pre-Game Notes

The Raiders have a chance to sweep the season series against the Hurricanes on Saturday, which would mark the first time that the team has done that since the 2009-10 campaign.

They almost accomplished that feat last year but dropped a 5-4 overtime decision at the Art Hauser Centre on Feb. 27.

The 31-12-2-5 Hurricanes, who are coming off of a wild 7-6 road triumph over the Red Deer Rebels on Wednesday night, have won their last two games and are tied for second place in the Central Division with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Blueliner Trevor Thurston will serve the first of a two-game suspension for a kneeing major and game misconduct penalty that he was called for on Wednesday after a hit on Rebels forward Cameron Hausinger, while Joe Arnsten, Dino Kambeitz and Noah Boyko were all listed as injured on the latest WHL weekly report on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Penguins defensive prospect Calen Addison, who missed last Friday’s encounter with the Raiders due to an illness, was back in the lineup on Wednesday and is currently enjoying an eight-game point streak.

Alex Cotton leads all blueliners in the WHL in scoring with 54 points, is tied with Portland’s Johnny Ludvig for the most goals by a defenceman with 16 and has the second-most assists from the blueline with 38, which is one back of Kamloops’ Max Martin.

Former Prince Albert Mintos forward Logan Barlage is fourth in team scoring with 49 points in 48 games.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Saskatoon vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Swift Current vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
  • Medicine Hat vs. Winnipeg – 7:30 p.m.
  • Prince Albert vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Seattle – 8 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Vancouver – 9 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.
  • Tri-City vs. Spokane – 9 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Victoria – 9 p.m.