It was a successful ending to the pre-season for the Prince Albert Raiders as they took home a victory over the Saskatoon Blades 2-1 at the Legends Centre in Warman.
It was a low-scoring physical contest. Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he thought his team answered to criticism after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blades the night before at the Art Hauser Centre.
“I thought that we battled hard. It was physical, open space was hard to find at both ends. I thought out position was better, and we won some puck battles. We’re a little bit more aware of where we need to be. We did put a premium on defence since I didn’t think we protected the net well last night.”
It didn’t take long for the Raiders to jump on the scoreboard. Even Herman gave Prince Albert the lead less then a minute in as he beat Blades goaltender Austin Elliott 44 seconds in.
Saskatoon got on the board at the 8:05 mark. Tanner Molendyk got a puck past Max Hildebrand. It was a bit of a homecoming for Hildebrand, the Martensville, Sask. product got to play in front of many family and friends at the Legends Centre.
Truitt says Hildebrand’s strong play kept the Raiders in the game.
“It’s a thrill to play close to your hometown. His parents and relatives were in the stands. One got by him there early on, but he locked the door. Especially on their powerplay. He stood tall and controlled the rebounds. He kept us in things when we were under siege and that’s what you need from a good goaltender.”
After a scoreless second frame, it took until the 16:40 mark of the third period for the Raiders to break the tie. Niall Crocker scored on the power play that gave Prince Albert a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish.
The Raiders finished the pre-season with a 3-1-1-0 record. The Raiders kicked off the preseason with a 6-3 win over the Saskatoon Blades in the inaugural game at the Jim Neilson Sports Complex on Big River First Nation. Prince Albert split a home and home series with the Regina Pats with 3-2 scores in both contests. The final two games of the pre-season saw the Raiders drop a 4-3 overtime game to the Saskatoon Blades and take a 2-1 decision from the Blades in Warman.
Truitt says each game had a different style and he was proud of the way the Raiders played.
“I thought we competed real hard all throughout. We played 5 games. A lot of these games were different. A lot of these different outcomes were different styles of games. I think that’s great for the exposure of the team to measure yourself in different situations.”
The Prince Albert Raiders open the 2022-2023 WHL season on Friday, Sept. 23 against the Saskatoon Blades from the Art Hauser Centre.