Moose Jaw jumps out to three goal lead, hand Raiders 4-2 setback

Trevor Thurston scored his first goal as a Raider in the second period against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders went 0/2 in their weekend homestand, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre. They had their fair share of chances to come out of the contest with a win, but their comeback bid fell just short, as the Raiders fell in their second game in as many nights.

“Again, I liked our try,” head coach Marc Habscheid said. “For the most part, our guys tried. Sometimes it is what it is. We made some blunders, and then those plays end up in our net. That’s kind of where we’re at right now, we make an error, and it ends up in our net. But, I liked our try, and we hung around, but it wasn’t enough.”

Moose Jaw opened the scoring 4:05 into the game, as Matthew Gallant let a point shot go that found its way through traffic. With Tikhon Chaika looking the wrong way on the screen, the seeing eye shot found a hole past his glove and in, and the Warriors took the early 1-0 lead.

With 1:06 left in the opening frame, the Warriors scored a late goal to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. Jagger Firkus sent a lead pass for linemate Josh Hoekstra, who came in alone on a breakaway. Hoekstra head faked, before beating Chaika blocker side with a quick snap shot for his third goal of the season. Trailing 9-7 in shots after the opening 20 minutes, the Raiders also found themselves trailing in goals 2-0.

“It was a tough game,” Raider defenceman Remy Aquilon said. “We had a slow start, and (Moose Jaw) capitalized on their chances. We’re have that inconsistency that we’re having right now, and we’re suffering from it, so we have to figure that one.”

In the second period during four on four play, Maximus Wanner put the Warriors up by three with a nifty move in the Raider zone. From the blue line, Wanner faked out a Raider defenceman with a toe drag move, and worked his way in on Chaika. With just the goalie to beat, he placed a shot under the glove and in for his sixth goal of the year, putting Moose Jaw up 4-0.

The Raiders responded in quick fashion, as Trevor Thurston tallied his first goal in green and gold. As Prince Albert broke out with a three on two rush, Sloan Stanick saw Thurston busting his way in through the blue line. Taking a pass on the tape, the defenceman found an open hole past Carl Tetachuk and buried a shot, making it a 3-1 deficit.

Firkus restored Moose Jaw’s three goal lead with a one time blast bar down past Chaika. A cross ice feed from Ryder Korczak gave the Raider netminder zero time to move across his crease, and Firkus placed a perfect shot over his shoulder. Through two periods, Moose Jaw took a commanding 4-1 lead into the third, also leading 22-15 in shots.

In the third, Evan Herman cut into the deficit with a one timer from the right circle. Carson Latimer led a rush into the Moose Jaw end, and slipped a pass across for Herman, who let a seeing eye shot go that found its way in past Tetachuk. His team leading 18th goal of the season made it a 4-2 Moose Jaw lead with 14:20 left in the third.

“They’re a super depth team and they have lots of good players in their lineup,” Aquilon said. “I think we’re starting to figure it out, but we for sure should’ve figured it out (how to beat Moose Jaw) at the start of the season.”

The Raiders pulled the goalie to bring in the extra attacker for the final two minutes of the game, and had some glorious chances to get back in the contest. Ozzy Wiesblatt took a one time shot from near the goal line on one of the opportunities, but Tetachuk dove across to make a beautiful stick save. Moments later, Landon Kosior had a chance of his own near the right circle, but rang a shot off the post. The Warriors were able to kill off the rest of the clock, winning by a 4-2 final.

Chaika made 26 saves on 30 shots as the Raiders fell to 17-26-2-1 with the loss. Tetachuk turned aside 23 of 25 shots in goal for the Warriors, as they improved to 29-17-3-2.

“I’m not going to complain when the try is there,” Habscheid added. “There’s parts of the schedule where you can’t score, and there’s parts of the schedule where you can’t help but to score. There’s ebbs and flows throughout the season, and right now, we make a big mistake and it ends up in our net. That’s kind of where we’re at right now, so we kind of rely on our experience, and we work our way through it.”

The Raiders head to the road for a lengthy five game road trip. They’ll play the first four against Medicine Hat, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton. They wrap up the road swing in Moose Jaw for their final regular season meeting with the Warriors. Aquilon says this upcoming trip will have a distinct sense of urgency.

“We go into every game with a must win mentality. It’s going to be hard going on the road because we won’t have our home crowd behind us, but we’ll have to use our team and rally up and win these games.”

Prince Albert will play in a matinee on holiday Monday, with a 3pm puck drop in Medicine Hat against the Tigers.