Raiders complete third period comeback, take down Hitmen 4-3 in shootout

Cale Sanders delivers the teddy bear toss goal 4:16 into the first period as part of a 4-3 shootout win against the Calgary Hitmen Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre. –Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders trailed 3-2 late in the third period but tied the game, winning it 4-3 in a shootout over the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

“Tonight our older guys were much better,” head coach Marc Habscheid said after the come from behind win. “We competed better tonight and I thought we were structurally better in some areas.”

The teddy bears came raining down early in the first period, as Cale Sanders sniped a shot top corner past Ethan Buenaventura. Just 4:16 into the game, the Raiders took a 1-0 lead, and the cleanup began. A crowd of 2,115threw teddy bears, toques, and mitts onto the ice.

“We know we didn’t have our best game out there,” Sanders said. “We knew we had to get pucks deep and win those battles and outwork them.”

Three minutes later, a rush up the ice for the Calgary Hitmen resulted in the tying goal. A Sean Tcshgerl centering pass from the right wall found its way through everyone, and found the stick of Riley Fiddler-Schultz in the slot. He placed a shot over Tikhon Chaika’s blocker, scoring his 13th goal of the season, and adding onto his team lead in points with 34.

With 10:15 left in the opening frame, Reece Vitelli restored Prince Albert’s one goal lead, scoring his 8th goal of the year after receiving a nice cross crease pass from linemate Keaton Sorenson, making it a 2-1 score. Vitelli picked up his first goal with the ‘C’ on his jersey, after being named captain last week. Prince Albert took that 2-1 lead into the first intermission, despite the shot total for both teams being 5 apiece.

In the second, Chaika was having all sorts of trouble finding the puck. On dump ins, the puck seemed to bounce away from him when he would make a play on it. 2:03 into the second, a puck came out in front of the net, and Chaika couldn’t locate it, and Oliver Tulk slipped a shot through the five hole before Chaika could find the puck. The Hitmen tied the game 2-2 in the early stages of the middle frame.

Keagan Slaney gave the Hitmen a 3-2 lead 5:14 into the second on a play that looked like it could’ve been called back for goaltender interference. A Hitmen made contact with Chaika in the crease, and Slaney’s shot entered the net a second later. The call on the ice by the official was a good goal, and with teams unable to challenge for goalie interference, Calgary took the lead.

In the third period, Evan Herman was sprung on a breakaway and was robbed by Buenaventura, and hit the crossbar on a follow up chance just seconds later. The puck worked its way to the point where Remy Aquilon put a shot on goal. Keaton Sorenson was right on the doorstep and tipped a shot home, tying the game 3-3.

A game winner couldn’t be scored in the third period, and the game would need overtime to find a winner.

In overtime, a lot of chances for the Raiders were made on the sticks of Ozzy Wiesblatt and Landon Kosior. With the two Raiders throwing good shots on net, Buenaventura was forced to make a handful of saves in the extra session, and he did so, holding Prince Albert off the scoreboard.

Landon Kosior made one of the saves of the game for the Raiders with just seconds left in overtime, as he blocked a shot on an empty net bid, forcing the game into a shootout.

Wiesblatt and Kosior added a goal each in the shootout, while Chaika shut the door on both Hitmen shots, as the Raiders completed the comeback to win an important game.

“We battled through a little adversity,” Kosior said. “I knew tonight we weren’t going to give this game up, and I’m super proud of the guys. Any time you can get a penalty kill like we had late in the game, it gives you energy. I thought we really built off of that, and that was a big part of us winning the game tonight.”

With the win, the Raiders picked up their 10th win of the season (10-13-1-1). Chaika turned aside 28 of 31 shots that came his way, grabbing his fourth win of the season. Buenaventura stopped 22 of 25 shots in regulation and overtime in the loss.

Next up for the Prince Albert Raiders is a Tuesday home game against the Winnipeg ICE.