Raiders close out season series with 8-1 win over Blades

Photo by Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Prince Albert Raider forward Sloan Stanick handles the puck in the offensive zone during WHL action at the SaskTel Centre on Sunday, Mar. 12 2023

The Prince Albert Raiders came to play in the final matchup of the season against their Highway 11 rival defeating the Saskatoon Blades 8-1 at the SaskTel Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says Prince Albert rebounded well after a 6-2 loss in Prince Albert on Friday.

“I liked our response from 48 hours ago. You didn’t know what the guys were thinking. When we talked about it, a lot of guys were determined coming into the game. It was good to get off to a good start in the first period, we never looked back. Our pace, determination and compete were all good. We played the right way.”

The Raiders would draw first blood as Keaton Sorenson would strike for his 24th goal of the season to give Prince Albert an early 1-0 advantage at the 10:21 mark of the first period. Ryder Ritchie and Landon Kosior assisted on the play.

Saskatoon wouldn’t stay down for long. Just over thirty seconds later, Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Brandon Lisowsky would strike for his 33rd goal of the campaign off the transition. The goal was Lisowsky’s eighth goal against Prince Albert this season.

At the 14:02 mark of the first period, Raider captain Evan Herman would restore the lead for Prince Albert. Sloan Stanick would make a pass from the corner to Herman, who was all alone in front of the Saskatoon net and he would make no mistake for his 16th goal of the season to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead.

The shots favored the home side Blades 9-6.

After a Ryder Ritchie shot ringed the red iron of the crossbar behind Blade netminder Ethan Chadwick, Carter Anderson would find the loose puck on the rebound and put it home for his 11th goal of the campaign to double the Raider lead at 3-1 just 5:37 into the second period. Keaton Sorenson and Ryder Ritchie both assisted on the play giving them their second points of the game.

With a delayed penalty coming to the Blades, the Raiders would take advantage of having six skaters on the ice. Hayden Pakkala would redirect an Evan Herman point shot past Chadwick to give the Raiders a 4-1 lead at the 11:02 mark of the second period. Terrell Goldsmith would receive credit for an assist on the play as well.

Saskatoon would switch goaltenders following the fourth Raider goal after Chadwick allowed four goals on nine shots.

With just 0.6 seconds to go in the second period, the Raiders would find the back of the net once more. Justice Christensen would fire a wrist shot off the point through traffic that found the back of the net for his 2nd goal of the season. Ryder Ritchie picked up his third assist of the night on the play. Carter Anderson was also credited with an assist.

Truitt says the Raiders played with a balanced offensive attack throughout the night.

“That’s exactly what you want. You want to spread things out, we don’t have a 50 goal scorer. We got a lot of guys within 10 to 15 points of each other. That’s depth scoring. It’s good to get that number tonight, we may not get eight every night. We are not built that way but tonight we got there and it’s good to see the depth scoring.”

Shots favored the home side Blades 24-12 after forty minutes of play.

Just 1:29 into the third period, Keaton Sorenson would extend the Raider lead to 6-1 with his second goal of the game and 25th of the season. The 20-year-old forward would attempt a pass towards Ryder Ritchie streaking down the right wing, but the puck would instead ricochet off of Blade netminder Austin Elliott. Terrell Goldsmith picked up his second assist of the game on the play.

Just over a minute later, Prince Albert would strike again as Sloan Stanick, playing in his 200th career game, would sneak a backhand shot through traffic and past Elliott to match his jersey number with his 23rd goal of the campaign to give the Raiders a commanding 7-1 advantage. Aiden Oiring and Brayden Dube assisted on the play.

After a penalty against Saskatoon’s Jayden Wiens, the Raider power play would strike extend the lead once more. Harrison Lodewyk would add his seventh goal of the season on a rebound in front of the net. Gabe Ludwig had the lone assist on the play. 

Tikhon Chaika earned the win in net for Prince Albert making 32 saves.

Throughout the night, Chaika was in peak form making some key saves on several premium opportunities for Saskatoon before the Raiders put the game out of hand.

Truitt says goaltending is going to be crucial for the Raiders moving forward in the playoff push.

“It’s going to be enormous down the stretch. Even after the first period, he was dialed in. It was a situation where he was quick in the net and our defenseman were there to clear pucks away. He was the difference in this game. There were some pucks bouncing in the slot they couldn’t get to. A couple of saves that he made that you might not think he could and that’s what we needed. We needed a big goaltending performance and we got it.”

THe Raiders return to action on Tuesday night when the Eastern Conference leading Winnipeg ICE visit the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.