Raider season comes to close with Game 5 loss in Saskatoon

Photo by Steve Hiscock. Raider goaltender Max Hildebrand embraces his father Steve in a hug following the conclusion of Game 5 in Saskatoon on Friday night.

The 2023-24 season has come to a close for the Prince Albert Raiders as they lost 6-2 to the Saskatoon Blades in Game 5 of their best-of-seven first round playoff series. Saskatoon won the series 4-1.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says Prince Albert gave it their all throughout the series.

“You’re up against a tremendously talented team. You always go into every playoff series believing you can win because the slate is clean. As the games go on, you have to tweak and see what they’re doing, what you’re doing.  We played to our capabilities. We win one game, we lose one in overtime. A couple of them were a little bit more distanced. But I won’t fault our guys for anything. They played hard.”

Brandon Lisowsky would open the scoring for Saskatoon at the 3:24 mark of the first period with his first goal of the series, coming unassisted.

Ben Saunderson would double the Saskatoon lead with his first goal of the series at the 5:57 mark of the opening frame. Trevor Wong and Easton Armstrong would assist on the play.

Alexander Suzdalev would increase the Saskatoon lead to three with his second of the playoffs just over a minute later.. Lisowsky and Fraser Minten assisted on the play.

Minten would add a goal of his own at the 12:36 mark with his first of the playoffs. Suzdalev and Charlie Wright assisted on the play.

Despite being down four goals early, the Raiders would not give in.

“The big thing about our club is that they’ll never give up.” Truitt says. “It’s been like that all year long. We’ve come from behind to win games, we’ve stuck to it when we had to defend some shootout games and things like that. We’ve come from behind and we’ve been down three (or) four before this year and have come back. The belief was still there, we knew it was going to be a challenge. Our guys worked and competed right to the end.”

Prince Albert would respond at the 14:13 mark of the opening frame as Niall Crocker would strike from the mouth of the Saskatoon crease during a delayed Saskatoon penalty for his third goal of the series. Easton Kovacs and Ryder Ritchie assisted on the play.

The Raiders drew closer at the 15:06 mark of the third period as Harrison Lodewyk drove to the net and beat Austin Elliott with a backhand shot to bring Prince Albert within two. Jacob Hofrogge had the lone assist.

That would be as close as the Raiders would get as the Blades would add a pair of empty net goals to ice the game.

Blades head coach Brennan Sonne spoke to media following the game and spoke highly of both fanbases in the series.

“The game on the ice itself was very gritty. I really enjoyed the fandom. I loved the crowds we got. I enjoyed even the crowd they had. It felt like a real, true playoff series.  I really enjoyed it. I hope the fans enjoyed it too, because their support was phenomenal in both buildings.”

Saskatoon will advance to face the Red Deer Rebels in the second round. The other Eastern Conference semi-final series features the Swift Current Broncos taking on the Moose Jaw Warriors.