Masella’s overtime heroics gives Raiders their third straight win

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Jeremy Masella celebrates with teammate Aliaksei Protas after scoring an overtime goal against the Winnipeg Ice last season.

If you were to make a list of players who would come up big in a three-on-three overtime situation for the Prince Albert Raiders, overage blueliner Jeremy Masella might not be the first name that comes to mind.

However, the 20-year-old picked a great time to score the seventh goal of his Western Hockey League career on Saturday as he converted a feed from Aliaksei Protas at the 2:20 mark of the extra frame to give his team a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Ice at the Art Hauser Centre.

“I just jumped into the gap at the right time there and got a great feed from Protas,” Masella said. “I was lucky enough to put it in and it’s fun to be out there and have a chance to make a difference at the end.”

“You can’t stop him, you just have to hope to contain him,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid joked. “It’s good to see Jeremy score there. He’s an incredible human being and he logs a lot of tough minutes out there. He does all of the little things that you need to do to win games and he was able to have a chance there on offence at the end.”

Although the Raiders have now won three straight games and lead the East Division with a 3-0-1-0 mark, Saturday’s game wasn’t the sharpest outing from the defending league champions as they saw a 2-0 lead disappear in the third period.

“Our structure could use some improvement as it was like river hockey out there at times tonight,” Habscheid said. “Our passing wasn’t very good and our puck management wasn’t great.

“We still found a way to win, but you don’t want to get into a false sense of security with that as things will go the other way if you don’t do the right things.”

Protas had a goal and an assist to lead the way on offence as he’s now in a tie for fourth place in league scoring with Carson Denomie of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers with seven points.

Ilya Usau scored the first goal of his WHL career in the second period while Boston Bilous turned aside 16 shots.

Cole Muir had a pair of assists for the 2-1-1-0 Ice, as he helped to set up third period goals by Michael Milne and Austin Schellenberg.

Gage Alexander made 21 saves in his WHL debut, with his best stop coming late in the third period as he came across the crease to rob Cole Nagy of a go-ahead goal.

“I thought he was excellent for us and he made a lot of big saves to keep us in it,” Muir said. “We kept battling out there and we were able to bury the chances that we had in the third period to have a chance there in overtime.

“It’s still early but I think things are going well for us so far. We’re growing as a team and Winnipeg is starting to feel like home for us already, especially with a lot of Manitoba guys on the roster.”

The Raiders will continue their six-game homestand on Friday night as they’ll welcome the Saskatoon Blades to town for a 7 p.m. contest.

Post-Game Notes

Prior to Masella’s heroics on Saturday, Brayden Pachal was the last Raiders blueliner to score a winning goal in overtime as he was the hero in a 4-3 road contest against the Saskatoon Blades on Dec. 27, 2018 at the SaskTel Centre.

Dating back to their time in Cranbrook, B.C., the Ice have now lost seven straight games to the Raiders and have dropped nine in a row at the Art Hauser Centre.

Brett Balas, Zack Hayes, Braydon Clark, Cohner Saleski and Evan Herman did not dress for the Raiders, while the Ice scratched Jesse Makaj, Dean McNabb, Ben Zolty, Chase Hartje, Zachary Patrick, Logan Danis and Peyton Krebs.

Matthew Savoie, who did not make the three-game road trip through Saskatchewan with the team, had a goal and an assist for the Rink Hockey Academy Saturday in a 4-3 overtime win over Edge School.

The 2004-born forward, who is expected to play at least half of the season with the Ice, had three goals and five assists in a 11-1 romp of the Banff Hockey Academy Friday.

Saturday’s Scores

  • Kamloops 6 Vancouver 2 (Orrin Centazzo – Two Goals and Two Assists)
  • Kelowna 5 Everett 1 (Michael Farren – Two Assists)
  • Medicine Hat 10 Swift Current 1 (James Hamblin – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Moose Jaw 3 Brandon 2 (Ryder Korczak – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Calgary 5 Red Deer 1 (Riley Stotts – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Tri-City 3 Spokane 0 (Beck Warm – 38 Saves – Third Career Shutout)
  • Victoria 3 Prince George 2 (Gary Haden Shootout Winner – Shane Farkas – 25 aves)

Sunday’s Schedule

  • Medicine Hat vs. Calgary – 4 p.m.
  • Lethbridge vs. Edmonton – 4 p.m.
  • Winnipeg vs. Regina – 4 p.m.
  • Kelowna vs. Vancouver – 5 p.m.

Tuesday’s Schedule

  • Saskatoon vs. Red Deer – 7 p.m.

Wednesday’s Schedule

  • Saskatoon vs. Lethbridge – 7 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
  • Seattle vs. Kamloops – 8 p.m.
  • Tri-City v. Kelowna – 8 p.m.