ICE manhandle Raiders 10-1 in game three to take 3-0 stranglehold on first round series

Ozzy Wiesblatt made his first playoff appearance for the Prince Albert Raiders after being sent to San Jose to be evaluated for an upper body injury. --Mark Peterson/Prince Albert Raiders

The score speaks for itself. The Prince Albert Raiders were behind the eight ball all game long, losing 10-1 to the Winnipeg ICE on Tuesday night at the Art Hauser Centre. The Raiders now trail their first round series with the ICE, and face a must win game on Wednesday night at home.

“You don’t want to lose that way,” head coach Marc Habscheid said. “I thought we started really good. Forget that first goal, and I think that might have changed the complexion a little bit and it would have given us some confidence. There were three penalties, two of which I thought were questionable (in the first period), and they scored on two of them. It is what it is.”

The Raiders entered game three’s matchup with the ICE in a near “must win” situation, trailing their opening round series 2-0. Their chances to pull a little closer in the series got a little better on Tuesday night, as forward Ozzy Wiesblatt made his return to the lineup.

While the Raiders had their chances to open the scoring early, it was the ICE that scored the first goal of the contest, as they got things rolling on yet another powerplay in the series. From the point, Carson Lambos fired a shot on goal that hit the traffic in front, but the rebound popped in the slot for Mikey Milne. Wasting little time with the puck, Milne buried Winnipeg’s fifth powerplay goal of the series to put the visitors on top 1-0.

The ICE kept their special teams rolling less than five minutes later on their second man advantage of the night. With Vlad Shilo in the box for holding, it took Winnipeg just 28 seconds to strike on the powerplay. Zach Benson jumped all over a rebound left in front of the net after a blocked shot from the point and buried it for his second goal of the postseason. 7:03 into the first, Winnipeg jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead.

Winnipeg wasn’t done there either, as just 5:05 later, Owen Pederson extended the lead to 3-0. A nice cross ice pass from Connor McClennon found the tape of Pederson on the doorstep, and he banged home a quick shot past Chaika. Pederson’s team leading third goal of the playoffs put the ICE up by a trio.

Just 30 seconds after that, Milne potted his second goal of the contest. Parked in the high slot, Milne deflected a Tanner Brown point shot that had Chaika moving the wrong way. The perfect tip gave Milne two goals on the night, putting Winnipeg up 4-0. Habscheid called a timeout after the goal, but Chaika remained in the game.

Outshooting Prince Albert 14-8 after 20 minutes, Winnipeg took their 4-0 lead into the second period. They also went 2/3 on the man advantage in the opening frame, and 6/10 overall in the series. Their third powerplay in the first was cut short after Benson took a penalty which turned into four on four action.

They have a lot of talent,” Habscheid said. “They dug out some rebounds and cashed them in. We can’t take penalties but it’s tough. There were a couple of penalties that we deserved, but it wasn’t like it was an out of hand game. Just let the guys play. They (the officials) called two marginal penalties that ended up in our net, and that’s tough to take, especially when you’re struggling a little bit.”

The Raiders were almost completely shut down in the second period, while the ICE continued to pour on the pressure in the offensive zone. Adding another powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal in the middle frame, Winnipeg’s special teams continued to kill Prince Albert. Benson kicked off the second period with a powerplay goal to make it a 5-0 game.

Chaika saw his night come to an end after Benson’s tally. It marked the second game in a row where Max Hildebrand made a relief appearance in the second period.

After that, the ICE scored three goals in under a minute to go up 8-0. McClennon started the mini scoring spree, while Jakin Smallwood scored his second goal of the playoffs. Conor Geekie capped off the goal explosion with his second of the playoffs.

Milne brought the second period to an end with a shorthanded goal with 26 seconds to go. A stretch pass from Benson left Milne all alone working in on Hildebrand, and he roofed a shot top corner over Hildebrand’s glove. Outshot 28-13 after 40 minutes, the Raiders were down 9-0, thankful to finally head to the dressing room, but possibly dreading what the third period might behold.

The Raiders finally got on the score board 1:40 into the third period, making it a 9-1 game. Niall Crocker was banging for the loose puck at the side of the net, and it came right out in front to Harrison Lodewyk. The Raider rookie shot into a wide open net to break Hauser’s shutout bid.

Skyler Bruce made it a 10 spot for the ICE 8:04 into the third period to make it a 10-1 Winnipeg lead. One goal was mercifully the only goal Winnipeg would find in the third period, as they took game three by a 10-1 final. Winnipeg became the first team to score 10 goals in a playoff game since the 2016 Brandon Wheat Kings, when they beat the Edmonton Oil Kings 10-3 in game six of their first round series.

The Raiders now have their backs against the wall, and will need to win game four on Wednesday to avoid the sweep and extend the series for a game five back in Winnipeg.

“They’ll be ready,” Habscheid said of his group. “Will we come back to win four straight, who knows. We’ll chip away. Raider pride. We’re still the defending champs, and we’re not going to go down without a fight. We’ll be ready tomorrow.”

Puck drop from the Art Hauser Centre is at 7 p.m.