Raiders edge Blades for second consecutive pre-season game

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Chase Coward made 28 saves in his Raider pre-season debut on Saturday night.

The Prince Albert Raiders maintained their winning ways in the WHL preseason with a 4-3 win over the Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre Saturday night.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt said the game provided an excellent test for Prince Albert.

“Our goaltender saved us in the first period. As the game went on, it was back and forth power plays and penalty kills. I like these types of games, they are tight checking and they are competitive. They bring out the best in positional play and individual efforts. You come out with a 4-3 win, that’s great. We always want to continue to build with momentum. It gives the coaches a good understanding of what we have to keep teaching.”

Saskatoon would have a good chance to open the scoring late in the first period as overager Trevor Wong would break through a  couple of Raider defenders, but the Vancouver, BC product couldn’t solve the left pad of Raider netminder Chase Coward.

The Blades would gain momentum in the later part of the period after a minor penalty against Eric Johnston, but the Raiders would kill off the penalty thanks to the efforts of Chase Coward, who made 15 saves in the first period.
Saskatoon would outshoot the Raiders 15-5 in the first period.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says liked what he saw in Coward’s first pre-season appearance as a Raider.

“(He was) very under control. He looked like a 20-year-old out there. He commanded the crease and he anticipated plays and he was strong when traffic came in tight on him. He held his ground and that’s what you’re looking for and (I was) really impressed.”

Saskatoon import defenceman Samuel Barcik would take a head contact at the 19:21 in the first period and the Raiders would take full advantage coming out of the intermission.

Niall Crocker would break the seal on the scoring just 0:19 into the second period putting home a puck from the mouth of the crease past Blade netminder Austin Elliott. Sloan Stanick and Ryder Ritchie assisted on the play.

“Everyone wants to get your special teams going as quickly as you can. To get that power play goal, gives the guys confidence on the power play. We get that first one and it’s great for the guys to capitalize on giving them confidence.”

Saskatoon would answer at the 8:17 mark on the power play. Tyler Parr would chip a rebound past an outstretched Chase Coward to even the score at 1-1. Tanner Molendyk and Trevor Wong would assist on the play. 

Just over four minutes later, the Raider lead would be restored thanks to the reigning WHL rookie of the year. Ryder Ritchie would dance through a pair of Blade defenders before firing a wrist shot high blocker side past Elliott for his 1st goal of the pre-season. Aiden Oiring picked up an assist on the play.

Anaheim Ducks draft pick Egor Sidorov would tie the game at the 15:34 mark with a wrist shot past Coward low blocker side. Tyler Parr and Trevor Wong received credits for assists on the play.

Saskatoon would take the lead before the end of the period as Charlie Wright would find twine at the 19:12 mark to give the visitors a 3-2 advantage heading into the second intermission. Jayden Wiens had the only assist on the play.

Shots favored Prince Albert 10-6 in the second period. 

The Raiders would keep the back-and-forth nature of the hockey game going as Niall Crocker would strike for his second of the night at the 2:19 mark of the third period. Harrison Lodewyk had the lone assist on the play.

“Everyone contributed.” Crocker said about the Raiders effort. “I know it’s just pre-season but it leads into the regular season. It’s big games for us and it’s always awesome to beat Saskatoon in our building.”

Harrison Lodewyk would pick up his second point of the night at the 15:50 mark of the third period as he would give the Raiders a 4-3 lead with his second of the pre-season. Brayden Dube and Carter Anderson would provide assists on the play.

Saskatoon would pressure in the final minute after pulling goaltender Austin Elliott. An Egor Sidorov point shot would best Coward, but not the red iron of the crossbar keeping the Raider lead intact.

Coward made 28 saves in the victory for Prince Albert. Austin Elliot made 17 saves for the Blades on the night.

The next pre-season game for the Raiders is Sept. 15 when they welcome Tanner Howe and the Regina Pats to the Art Hauser Centre. The Raider home opener is Sept. 22 when they welcome the Moose Jaw Warriors. Puck drops at 7 p.m. both nights.