Raider comeback falls short in loss to Wheat Kings

Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender Ethan Eskit (1) keeps a close eye on Prince Albert Raiders forward Niall Crocker (24) during the first period of their Western Hockey League game at Westoba Place on Wednesday. (Perry Bergson/The Brandon Sun) Sept. 27, 2023

The Prince Albert Raiders couldn’t complete a comeback on the road as they fell 4-3 to the Brandon Wheat Kings at Westoba Place on Wednesday night.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he thought Prince Albert had several opportunities to score more than they did.

“I thought we had enough chances to win the game. In the first period, I thought we had plenty and we could’ve had the lead. In the third period, we generated enough but we couldn’t find the back of the net. In the six-on-five, we had some troubles entering the zone and couldn’t get pucks through enough. From my standpoint, we had enough chances to win but we gave up some chances they capitalized on.”

It would be a back and forth first period with both teams trading goals.

Nolan Flamand would open the scoring for the Wheat Kings with his third goal of the campaign coming just 3:30 into the contest. Caleb Hadland picked up a helper.

Grady Martin would respond for Prince Albert just over two minutes later with his first goal of the season. Krzysztof Macias and Owen Boucher would pick up helpers on the play.

Roger McQueen would restore the Brandon lead with his third goal of the season at the 13:44 mark of the first period. Rylen Roersma and Dominik Petr assisted on the play.

Carter Klippenstein would extend the Wheat King lead to two at the 5:28 mark of the second period.  Brett Hyland and Anthony Wilson assisted on the play.

Less than two minutes later, McQueen would add his second of the night at the 7:04 mark. Roersma and Petr assisted on the play. 

Truitt says the Raiders didn’t play strong defensively to start the second period.

“We didn’t score on a power play and that could’ve been a momentum builder. There were some breakdowns where guys were caught puck watching, I thought that we got beat wide a few times. In our own zone, we didn’t defend very well. We gave them too many quality looks and they capitalized on it. We were all hungry for the offense, but we got to make sure we don’t have those big breakdowns.”

The Raiders would respond at the 16:30 mark as Kryzysztof Macias and Ryder Ritchie would connect on a nifty passing play for Macias’ second goal of the campaign to cut the Wheat King lead to 4-3.

In the third period, Oli Chenier would bring the Raiders within one at the 8:08 mark of the third period with his first career WHL goal. Easton Kovacs and Grady Martin assisted on the play.

“(It’s) pretty cool for him.” Truitt said about Chenier’s first WHL goal in his home province. “The kids have played well. Moroz, Kubiesa and Chenier have done a real good job for us. They’ve provided some energy and some simplicity to the game which is exactly what they need to in their first year in the league. They’re not playing an overcomplicated game and they’re getting opportunities because of that.”

The Raiders return to action on Friday night when they welcome PA product Tanner Howe and the Regina Pats to the Art Hauser. Truitt says the Raiders need to keep the game simple to find their way back into the win column.

“Regina’s a tough, smothering team. They don’t give you a lot, they’re structured and they work hard and can pounce on you. They play a very good team game. We got to break that by making simple plays and not creating turnovers and headaches for ourselves. For us to do that, we need the energy. We need to get back to the win column right away and feel good about our game right now.”

Puck drops at 7 p.m. 

Around The WHL

In the only other game in the WHL on Wednesday night, the Moose Jaw Warriors picked up their first win of the campaign, downing the Regina Pats 4-2 at the Brandt Centre. Tanner Howe had a goal and an assist in the game for the Pats.