The Prince Albert Raiders have iced some formidable teams over the years, but none have put together a 16 game winning streak … until now.
Brett Leason, Parker Kelly, Ozzy Wiesblatt and Noah Gregor all had goals as the Raiders overwhelmed the Kootenay Ice 5-1 on a memorable night in Cranbrook.
The Raiders were never in any real danger, outshooting their opponents 19-6 in the first period, but the victory was still sweet for a squad that now sits with a 23-1 record on the season.
“Obviously it’s nice,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said after the game when asked about breaking the old record held by the 1985-86 squad. “That team won (a lot) and that’s what, in the end, everyone strives to do. We haven’t won (it all), but getting past that is nice anyway because that was a pretty good team.”
Despite being hemmed in their own end for most of the first period, the Kootenay Ice had the first good scoring chance of the game. Unfortunately for the Ice it led to Prince Albert’s first goal.
Jaeger White’s wrist shot bounced off the post and out, allowing the Raiders to turn around and spring Brett Leason on a breakaway. Leason then beat Ice netminder Duncan McGovern glove side to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
The goal set the tone for much of the night, as the Ice struggled to contain the Prince Albert counterattack.
“I really liked our transition (game) tonight,” Habscheid said. “I thought that might have been our best game as far as transition is concerned.”
Ozzy Wiesblatt made it 2-0 at 9:03 of the second period with a great second effort during a goalmouth scramble. There was some initial confusion over whether the puck crossed the goal line, but the goal stood despite protests from McGovern.
Parker Kelly extended the lead roughly six minutes later with a quick backhand following a smooth display of stickhandling, sending the Raiders into the final period with a 3-0 lead.
The Raiders picked up where they left off in the third with a power play goal from Gregor before Kootenay broke Donovan Buskey’s shutout bid.
Ice rookie Michael Milne tipped home a point shot for his first ever WHL goal at 10:56, but Buskey slammed the door the rest of the way.
The Vancouver product was forced to endure long periods without any action in only his fourth start of the season. After the game, Habscheid credited him for staying focused during a rare night off for regular starter Ian Scott.
“It’s tough to come in when you don’t play that much, but he did a good job,” Habscheid explained. “You can tell the guys like him because they want to play hard for him. He doesn’t get in much, so they want to play well in front of him.”
Gregor added some insurance with his second of the game at 17:39. The Raider forward poked home a loose puck following a give-and-go with Brayden Pachal.
The 5-1 win was Prince Albert’s second of the year over Kootenay. They have outscored the Ice 12-3 in those two contests.
Buskey made 22 stops to pick up the win for the Raiders, while McGovern made 51 saves in a losing cause for the Ice, who have lost five straight games.
Leason paced the Raiders offence with a goal and two assists, while Sean Montgomery had a pair of helpers.
Gregor and Kelly had a goal and an assist each in th contest.
The Raiders are off until Tuesday night when they make the trip to the only arena they’ve lost in this season: the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer.
Prince Albert will be looking to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Rebels in that building on Oct. 6. The Raiders won the only other contest between the two teams 2-1 on Oct. 13 at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Raiders tied their longest road win streak in franchise history Saturday, as they matched a previous mark they achieved in the 1985-86 campaign.
Leason’s first period goal extended his point streak to 24 games and surpassed Jeremy Reich’s 23-game run with the Swift Current Broncos in the 1999-00 season for the longest run to start off a WHL campaign since 1996-97, which is as far back as stats go on the league website.
He also is tied with Tim McGauley of the 2014-15 Brandon Wheat Kings and Brett McLean of the 1996-97 Kelowna Rockets for the longest point streak during that time span.
The 19-year-old from Calgary holds the league lead in goals (25) and points (54), in addition to being tied for third in assists (29) with Spokane Chiefs blueliner Ty Smith.
The Ice, who were already without star forward Peyton Krebs and Finnish bluleliner Valtteri Kakkonen due to injuries, lost the services of forwards Cameron Hausinger and Connor McClennon during Saturday’s contest.
Hausinger left the game after a hit in the first period, while McClennon was in considerable pain had to be helped off the ice after going hard into the boards during a battle with Jeremy Masella in the second frame.
Defencemen Lane Kirk and forward Jakob Brook did not dress for the Raiders, while Krebs and Kakkonen were the only scratches for the Ice.
- Moose Jaw 3 Lethbridge 2 (Brayden Tracey Overtime Winner – Tristin Langan One Goal and Two Assists)
- Swift Current 3 Edmonton 2 (Ben King – One Goal and One Assist)
- Medicine Hat 7 Red Deer 3 (Bryan Lockner – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Portland 4 Seattle 3 (Reece Newkirk – One Goal and One Assist)
- Saskatoon 4 Prince George 1 (Max Gerlach – One Goal and One Assist)
- Spokane 3 Kamloops 1 (Eli Zummack – Three Assists)
- Tri-City 3 Calgary 2 (Isaac Johnson Shootout Winner – Beck Warm – 38 Saves)
- Vancouver 4 Victoria 1 (Davis Koch – One Goal and One Assist)
- Everett 2 Kelowna 1 (Connor Dewar – Two Goals)
- Everett vs. Portland – 7 p.m.