As his time in junior hockey enters the home stretch, Max Paddock put together one of his best performances in the Western Hockey League on Thursday night.
The Prince Albert Raiders overage netminder stopped all 45 shots that came his way at the Brandt Centre as he helped his team pick up a 2-0 shutout triumph over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“It obviously feels good to get the shutout as we’ve been pretty close to having one over the last couple of games,” Paddock said after earning the eighth clean sheet of his WHL career and his fourth in a Raiders uniform.
“It was a great overall effort from the guys tonight, especially in the third period as we were able to lock things down. That’s been our focus here in the last couple of games as we’ve tried to bear down in the third period and not give our opponents much of anything.”
Like any goaltender in a strong outing, Paddock had some help on his side on Thursday as Warriors rookie forward Brayden Yager rang two shots off of the iron in the third period and underage Raiders blueliner Terrell Goldsmith helped to clear the puck out of danger as Cade Hayes tried to shovel a rebound home in the middle stanza.
Paddock’s best stop of the night would come during the final frame as he made a kick save with his right pad to turn aside Josh Hoekstra in tight.
“That was the TSN turning point so to speak,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.
“The penalties were lopsided (four to one) in their favour so that probably increased the shot count a little bit, but I thought that we were the better team when it was five-on-five.”
Another impressive aspect of the Raiders win was the fact that five of their six blueliners were rookies, with Tre Fouquette making his WHL debut after being called up earlier in the week.
In addition to Kaiden Guhle (hand injury) and Nolan Allan (with Canada’s Under-18 team) being unavailable, sophomore defenceman Landon Kosior was out of the lineup as he served the first of a three-game suspension for a check to the head major penalty and a game misconduct he received on Tuesday after a hit he made on Regina Pats forward Zack Smith in the third period.
“There were a few times where they gave me a couple more grey hairs but for the most part I thought our young defence hung in there pretty well,” Habscheid said.
“We wanted to give them some looks that they could handle and our forwards did a good job of creating easy outs for them. They did some good things when they were under pressure as well.”
It was the Raiders’ second line that provided the offence on Thursday as Michael Horon and Eric Pearce scored to help their team pick up a third straight win and improve their record to 7-8-2-1.
“Our line (which also includes Justin Nachbaur) have really been clicking here lately and we’ve been able to convert on our chances, which have come from working hard and getting into the dirty areas,” Horon said after lighting the lamp for the third time in the last four games.
“Michael’s not the biggest guy, but when he gets going down the side he uses his size to his advantage,” Habscheid added. “He’s tough to handle as he drives to the net and you saw that on his goal as (Warriors blueliner Daemon Hunt) wasn’t able to get any leverage on him.”
Boston Bilous stopped 23 shots for the 7-10-1-0 Warriors, who have lost their last three games.
The Raiders will begin their final loop through the WHL’s East Division on Sunday at 8 p.m. as they’ll take on the Regina Pats.
Paddock’s 45-save outing tied the most he’s ever had in a WHL victory as he previously accomplished that feat on Nov. 30, 2019 in a 4-3 road contest against the Red Deer Rebels.
His previous record for the most stops he’s made as a member of the Raiders happened on Sunday as he turned aside 35 shots in a 4-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos.
Thursday also marked the first time that the Raiders had shutout the Warriors since Feb. 13, 2008, when Dustin Butler made 32 saves in a 3-0 victory at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre.
In addition to Kosior, Guhle and Allan, the Raiders did not dress Logan Danis and Max Hildebrand for the game, while the Warriors were without the services of Logan Doust, Calder Anderson, Denton Mateychuk, Bryden Kiesman and Nolan Jones.
- Saskatoon 3 Swift Current 0 (Blake Stevenson – Two Goals – Nolan Maier – 27 Saves – Second Shutout This Season and Ninth Career)
- Spokane 4 Portland 3 (Eli Zummack Overtime Winner – Two Goals – Mason Beaupit – 48 Saves)
- Brandon 4 Winnipeg 3 (Ben McCartney – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
- Kamloops 5 Prince George 0 (Josh Pillar – Two Goals and One Assist – Dylan Garand – 16 Saves – Sixth Career Shutout)
- Saskatoon 4 Regina 1 (Rhett Rhinehart – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
- Edmonton 4 Lethbridge 0 (Jalen Luypen – One Goal and One Assist – Sebastian Cossa – 30 Saves – Second Shutout This Season and Sixth Career)
- Vancouver 4 Victoria 0 (Justin Sourdif – One Goal and One Assist – Drew Sim – 16 Saves – First Career Shutout)
Following their 4-1 loss to the Blades on Thursday, the Pats will enter Sunday’s game on a three-game losing skid and with a 6-9-2-1 record.
If the Raiders win on Sunday, it will mark the third year in a row that they’ve taken the season series over the Pats.
If the Pats beat the Raiders, it will result in a split of the season series for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign.
Pats blueliner Ryker Evans, who is currently second in defensive scoring with 21 points in 18 games, enters Sunday’s contest on an eight-game point streak that’s the most by any defender in the WHL this season.
Regina will not have rookie phenom Connor Bedard in the lineup for the game as he prepares to play for Canada at the World Under-18’s, while Jakob Dewitt, Jakob Brook and Jake Johnson and Smith are all currently sidelined due to injuries.
- Swift Current vs. Winnipeg – 6 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Medicine Hat – 7 p.m.
- Everett vs. Seattle – 7 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Victoria – 8 p.m.
- Moose Jaw vs. Brandon – 4 p.m.
- Seattle vs. Portland – 6 p.m.
- Lethbridge vs. Edmonton – 7 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Red Deer – 7 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Tri-City – 7 p.m.
- Swift Current vs. Saskatoon – 8 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Prince George – 8 p.m.
- Brandon vs. Winnipeg – 4 p.m.
- Portland vs. Everett – 5 p.m.
- Tri-City vs. Spokane – 6 p.m.
- Edmonton vs. Lethbridge – 7 p.m.
- Vancouver vs. Kamloops – 7 p.m.
- Regina vs. Prince Albert – 8 p.m.