The Prince Albert Raiders were able to forge a comeback on Wednesday night against the Brandon Wheat Kings, but it was foiled by a late goal with just over two minutes in the third period in a 4-3 loss.
Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says that Prince Albert showed a lot of grit to come back in the game but need to get to the next level.
“We turned over the puck too many times.. You got to work and sometimes our battle level wasn’t high enough. They were the better team early on. In the second period, we got going a little bit. In the third period, the battle was on. We got to 3-3, now you got to ask your team to clutch up and win a small portion of the game. To have one like that is pretty demoralizing. I’ll give this group a lot of credit for the character for coming back. Even though when they are down and things aren’t going the way you want them to, they find a way to at least get us even and now we just got to get over the hump.”
It would be a strong start for the visitors as Brett Hyland’s 12th goal of the season would open the scoring just 4:28 into the first period to give Brandon a 1-0 lead.
Brandon would extend the lead eight minutes later as Calder Anderson would strike for his 7th goal of the season to give the Wheat Kings a 2-0 lead after the first.
Shots favored Brandon 12-9 in the opening frame.
The Raiders would get on the board 9:11 into the second period. Niall Crocker would redirect a point shot from Eric Johnston past Carson Bjarnason to cut the Wheat King in half at 2-1.
Tempers would flare with 10:28 remaining in the second period as Raiders forward Grady Martin would land a big hit on Wheat Kings defenceman Quinn Mantei drawing a crowd of Raiders and Wheat Kings.
Carson Bjarnason would keep the Wheat Kings ahead in the second period as he went left to right to make a sprawling pad save on Hayden Pakkala on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity.
The Wheat Kings would restore their two goal lead 8:43 into the third period. After the Raiders would fail to clear on the penalty kill, Nolan Ritchie would strike for his 12th goal of the season to extend the Brandon lead to 3-1.
Prince Albert would respond at 12:12 mark as Gabe Ludwig would make a perfect wrist shot over the left shoulder of Bjarnason to cut the Wheat King lead to 3-2
The goal was Ludwig’s first in a Raider uniform after being acquired in the Nolan Allan trade with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Wednesday’s game was Ludwig’s third as a Raider since returning from an upper body injury suffered as a Seattle Thunderbird prior to the trade.
Ludwig says he was amped to make his Art Hauser debut.
“I was super excited. I was waiting a long time to finally play here and the fans are great and it was electric. I had a ton of fun out there. I feel like as each day goes by, I get more comfortable getting to know the systems better and build more chemistry with my linemates.”
Harrison Lodewyk would score the equalizer for the Raiders just over two minutes at the 14:21 mark of the third.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Jake Chiasson would give the Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 lead at the 17:51 mark with an unassisted goal on a sharp angle shot that beat Raider goaltender Tikhon Chaika.
Truitt says the Raiders will need to refocus for the final four games remaining in the homestand after the loss.
“We got to come out and take a look at the standings and give ourselves an opportunity to keep moving up. There’s a lot on the line. We talked about this yesterday in practice about how important these games have to be for us. We got to be better.”
With the loss, the Raiders fall to 10-16-2 on the season. The next game for the Raiders is on Friday night when they host Prince Albert product Tanner Howe and the Regina Pats at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7pm.