Raiders dominate Ice

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Noah Gregor controls the play from the point during a Prince Albert Raiders power play in a November 2018 game against the Kootenay Ice.

A five-goal margin of victory might not do justice to how impressive the Prince Albert Raiders were Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.

The top ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League improved their record to 16-1, increased their win streak to nine in a row and are now a perfect 9-0 on home ice to start the season after a convincing 7-2 triumph over the Kootenay Ice.

“That was a really good game tonight from our team,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “I think everyone saw just how fast we were and how complete of a team performance we had.

“What I’m most happy about though is that there is no big shotitis with this group. They go about their business and try to play the right way.”

Leading the charge for the Raiders was Brett Leason, as he scored two goals and set up two others.

His two third period snipes gives Leason a new season high total of 17 and he now has 39 points to lead the Western Hockey League in scoring as his consecutive game point streak is now at 17 games.

“It’s plain and simple, he’s the best there is,” Raiders forward Parker Kelly joked after being the recipient of a Leason pass on his second period shorthanded goal.

“He’s off to a great start and we’re all happy for him. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities coming his way and I can’t think of a nicer guy to have that happen to.”

Leason’s line was a dominant force all night long, as Aliaksei Protas had a pair of assists and Sean Montgomery scored on the power play in the first period.

“We just keep playing our game and we have a lot of confidence right now,” Leason said. “We’re playing fast, playing smart and we keep moving the puck when we’re on offence.”

“We’ve been able to roll four lines in pretty much every game and that allows us to generate some mismatches,” Habscheid said. “The other lines have been playing well and chipping in offensively. We had numerous chances throughout the lineup tonight and we could have had more than seven goals.”

Carson Miller had a goal and an assist in the win, while Justin Nachbaur dished out a pair of helpers.

Spencer Moe and Noah Gregor also scored for the Raiders, who received a 17-save performance from Ian Scott.

The Ice, who have a 6-8-2-1 record and saw their two-game win streak come to an end Friday, got their goals from Cole Muir and Nick Bowman.

Jesse Makaj turned aside 32 shots for the visitors and kept the game from getting completely out of hand with a number of big saves in the third period.

Although the Raiders will have to wait until next Friday night for their next game at home against the Swift Current Broncos, three of their players are about to head out to British Columbia.

Kelly, Leason and Scott will be playing for Team WHL at the Canada Russia Series on Monday in Kamloops and Tuesday in Vancouver.

“I’ve been anticipating these games for a little while now so I’m excited to head out there and face a difficult opponent,” Leason said.

“It should be a fun experience and it will be great to make some new friends, but there’s going to be a lot of eyes on us in both games,” Kelly added.

Post-Game Notes

The Raiders, who went 3-1 against the Ice last season, have now won seven straight games over the Central Division club at the Art Hauser Centre in a streak that dates back to Oct. 6, 2015.

Sergei Sapego had an assist in his first game since Oct. 20 as he was sidelined due to an illness.

Nolan Allan and Cohner Saleski were both called up to play for the Raiders Friday, with Allan getting the chance to match up against his older brother and Ice forward Blake.

Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Weisblatt will both open up their tournament schedules this weekend at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in New Brunswick.

Guhle and Canada Red will be back in action Saturday against Russia, while Wiesblatt’s Canada Black squad will take on Canada White Sunday.

In addition to the two rookies, Lane Kirk and Kody McDonald were both out of the Raiders lineup due to injuries.

Defenders Nolan Orzeck and Valterri Kakkonen did not play for the Ice, while forward Connor McClennon is competing for Canada White at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Friday’s Scores

  • Saskatoon 5 Moose Jaw 2 (Max Gerlach – Two Goals)
  • Edmonton 5 Regina 1 (Brett Kemp – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Swift Current 5 Lethbridge 4 (Noah King Overtime Winner – Joel Hofer – 42 Saves)
  • Calgary 7 Medicine Hat 5 (Mark Kastelic – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Brandon 3 Kamloops 2 (Stelio Mattheos Overtime Winner – Two Goals)
  • Portland 7 Victoria 3 (Cody Glass – One Goal and Three Assists)
  • Prince George 4 Seattle 1 (Isaiah DiLaura – 21 Saves)
  • Tri-City 4 Everett 2 (Beck Warm – 53 Saves)

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Red Deer vs. Calgary – 1:30 p.m.
  • Kootenay vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Saskatoon vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Portland – 7 p.m.
  • Seattle vs. Prince George – 8 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Vancouver – 8 p.m.
  • Brandon vs. Kelowna – 8 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Spokane – 8 p.m.