McClennon nets hat trick as ICE beat Raiders 5-2

Connor McClennon scored three goals as the Winnipeg ICE beat the Prince Albert Raiders 5-2 Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre. Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

Connor McClennon scored his first hat trick of the season as the Winnipeg ICE took down the Prince Albert Raiders 5-2 on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

Despite the loss, head coach Marc Habscheid was proud of the way his team battled all game.

“I like our game,” Habscheid said. “It’s tough to say that when it’s 5-2. We look for three things, and that’s work ethic, commitment, and playing as a team, and we did all that. We made some individual mistakes that cost us, and those things happen, but if anything that’s from trying too hard, and I’ll live with that. “

Owen Pederson opened the scoring for the visitors 4:01 into the first period. He took a pass from Mikey Milne in front of the net and put a shot top corner. Tikhon Chaika couldn’t grab it with the glove, and Pederson buried it top shelf, putting Winnipeg up 1-0 early.

The ICE started to run away with the game in the second period, scoring four goals in a span of 10 minutes. Connor McClennon started it off with a powerplay goal. Matthew Savoie made a rink wide pass to his linemate, and McClennon shot a rocket from Ovechkin’s office and in, making it a 2-0 Winnipeg lead.

A bad turnover in the defensive zone led to the ICE scoring their second goal of the period and third of the game. Overager Cole Muir picked a pass off and sniped a shot top corner past Chaika’s glove. In a matter of three minutes, Winnipeg scored back to back goals, and went up by three goals.

Just 31 seconds later, McClennon and Savoie led a two on one rush down the ice. McClennon carried the puck down the left wing and elected to shoot, and he picked the far side corner on Chaika. His second of the game quickly made it a 4-0 lead. Chaika saw his night come to an end after the fourth goal, with Max Hildebrand finishing the game between the pipes.

“He played great,” Habscheid said of Chaika’s performance. “He made some key saves early. It gives him a chance to get some rest, he’ll get the start tomorrow. I like the way our guys rallied after that and ease up a little bit. Sometimes change is good, and it definitely wasn’t his fault.”

On the man advantage once again in the second period, McClennon completed the hat trick the same way he scored his first of the night. This time it was Benjamin Zloty sending a pass over from the point, and McClennon ripped another one timer past Hildebrand, netting his third goal of the contest.

Tayem Gislason cut into that lead with a goal of his own with 10 seconds left in the middle frame. Cale Sanders sent a pass from the goal line that found its way all the way to the point. Gislason showed great patience, waiting for traffic to develop in front of the net, before sniping a shot top corner past Daniel Hauser. Gislason’s second goal of the year made it a 5-1 game heading into the second intermission.

“The turning point was in the second when we had a shorthanded play, and the puck bounced the wrong way. If we score there, then it’s 1-1, but they came right back and made it 2-0. That started the rodeo from there. I think if we got that, it would’ve been a different game.”

In the third, Reece Vitelli made it a three goal game 5:11 in. Avoiding what would’ve been a nasty collision at centre ice, Vitelli went for a skate into the Winnipeg zone. Protecting the puck on his forehand, he worked his way down the right wall and behind the net, scoring a gorgeous wraparound goal before Hauser could meet him at the far post. Vitelli’s 14th goal of the season made it a 5-2 deficit.

Things started to get heated for the remainder of the third period. After virtually every whistle, a scrum would ensue, and penalties were handed out. Most notably, McClennon was given a 10 minute misconduct, keeping him out for the remainder of the game.

After a chippy third period, the ICE came out with the 5-2 win, outshooting the Raiders 30-25. Prince Albert is back in action on Saturday night as they welcome the Medicine Hat Tigers, who dropped a 9-2 decision to the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night.