Shots were plentiful, but goals were not for the Prince Albert Raiders as they fell 3-1 to the Calgary Hitmen in WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre Wednesday.
Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he wants to see more players contribute on the score sheet.
“I thought that we had a lot of opportunities here tonight. A couple unfortunate goals one off of a shin pad on a power play that goes in to start it for them and blown faceoff coverage. It’s a detail of the game we have to have. We generated a lot of opportunities tonight and moved the puck well. Our intensity was good. You take a look at our players, Ryder Ritchie scores another big goals for us. We need more than just him to score. We need our best players to be our best players and I thought there was lots left on the table. We need more from the older guys.”
The Raiders would apply plenty of offensive pressure early, but the Calgary Hitmen would open the scoring 9:54 into the contest with a short-handed tally. Anaheim Ducks prospect. Sean Tschigerl would redirect a point shot from Blake Heward past Tikhon Chaika for his 12th goal of the season to make it 1-0 Calgary.
Calgary would double the lead thanks to Maxim Muranov’s third goal of the season coming at the 14:20 mark of the first period. Tomis Marinkovic would pick up the lone assist on the play.
Shots in the opening period favored the home side with the Raiders leading 14-12.
Ryder Ritchie would answer back for the Raiders in the second. The 16-year-old would extend his point streak to six consecutive contests with his 9th goal of the season coming on the power play at 15:25 mark of the second period to cut the Calgary lead in half at 2-1.
Shots after two periods again favored the Raiders 29-26.
The Raiders would apply pressure in the third, but Ethan Buenaventura stood tall in net for the Hitmen making 42 saves in net for the victory, despite battling a cold.
Truitt says the Raiders need to find a finishing touch in order to succeed.
“In the short term, you look at the offense that we are generating and see we’re getting some shots on net and we need to finish. We’ve been saying that for a while. We need to find those greasy goals and get in front of a goaltender. We need to create chaos in the crease and not let a goaltender see the puck the whole way. I thought at times we were there but not enough.”
Tomis Marinkovic would add an empty net goal in the last minute of play to secure the 3-1 victory for the Hitmen.
Wednesday night’s game also marked the 100th career game in the WHL for Raider forward Hayden Pakkala.
Pakkala was initially drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft by the Winnipeg ICE with the 142nd overall selection. He has posted 28 points, including 13 goals in his 100 games, all of which have come in a Raider uniform.
He says he is very proud of the accomplishment.
“It feels amazing. It was a hard fought game for my 100th game. It’s been a lot of work getting here and it’s a dream come true honestly. So, it feels pretty good.”
The Raiders return to action on Friday, Jan. 7 when they welcome the Central Division leading Red Deer Rebels to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7pm.