The Prince Albert Raiders couldn’t dig themselves out of an early hole as they fell 6-1 to the Calgary Hitmen at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday night.
Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he needs to see more out of the Raiders veteran players.
“Our older guys have to get better; they have to drive this thing and show the way. Zach Wilson comes back off injury and he was one of the hardest working guys on the ice here tonight. More guys need to take a page from him.”
Calgary would score the opening two goals in the first period off the stick of Oliver Tulk just over 8 minutes in and Blake Heward would strike just over two minutes later.
The Raiders would get on the board with just over five minutes remaining in the first as Evan Herman picked up his first goal of the season from Boucher and Sorenson.
After that, Calgary netminder Brayden Peters stood tall for the rest of evening, turning aside 35 of 36 Raiders shots he faced.
Truitt says the Raiders need to convert on opportunities when they get them.
“Just keep shooting. You got to get the opportunities and we had some, but we just didn’t finish. We were still getting opportunities, so we just got to keep shooting.”
Calgary would strike for one in the second period after a scramble in front of Tikhon Chaika. Matteo Danis found the loose puck and banged it home for his second of the season at the 16:45 mark.
A Raider comeback seemed very possible trailing 3-1 after 40 minutes, but the Calgary Hitmen had other plans .
Brandon Whynott would strike for his first goal of the season just over 8 minutes in and Jacob Wright got his second of the season just over four minutes later.
The fifth Hitmen goal of the game ended the night for Tikhon Chaika as he was replaced in net by Max Hildebrand. Truitt says the goaltending change was not punitive for his performance.
“We had to open some things a little bit and we had to take some chances. They got a couple in, no fault of Chaika’s. I thought to get Hildebrand in for the last little bit to give him some time. I just think our older guys need to take more control of this. Not wait and see, but to drive the train.”
Calgary would add more one goal at the 16:05 mark as Matteo Danis added his second of the contest.
WILSON BACK FROM INJURY
In positive news for the Raiders on Saturday night, Zachary Wilson made his season debut for the Raiders after suffering an injury near the end of training camp.
Wilson says being back in the lineup made him feel more included as part of the team.
“It’s nice. We didn’t the outcome we wanted today. But getting back on the ice and in the room with the guys today, you feel more a part of the team with that included.”
With the loss on Saturday, the Raiders fell to 2-6-2 on the season. However, Wilson says the team is better then the record indicates and that the team is just in a rough patch.
“I think character-wise yes. I think some teams have tough starts to the season. Some teams have that. With guys moving in and out of the lineup, it can be tough to gel with each other. We got a good core in that room, when everyone gets settled it will start to pay off here.”
The Raiders will hit the road next weekend for a three game in three day swing through Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary