Raiders forge third period comeback to top archrival Blades

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raider forward Brayden Dube attempts to sneak a puck past the pad of Saskatoon Blades goaltender Austin Elliott during first period action Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre

A trio of goals in the third period helped power the Prince Albert Raiders past their archrival Saskatoon Blades 3-1 on Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

Coming off a 6-1 loss at the SaskTel Centre on Friday, Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says the Raiders showed a different side on home ice Saturday.

“It was a total mindset change. But willing our way through a tough game. Down 1-0 after two periods, we came back with three goals in the third. It was that work ethic and details that went into the game is one thing. Our guys willed it. We were outshot but got the goaltending we needed but then we got the opportunities to score and we buried it. Against a rival like this, it feels real good.” 

After a roughing minor penalty called against Raider captain Evan Herman, the Saskatoon Blades would open the scoring 7:58 into the first period. Brandon Lisowsky would receive a pass on the back door from Jake Chiasson and the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect would make no mistake for his 23rd goal of the season. Trevor Wong would be credited with the other assist on the goal.

Neither team would find the back of the net in the second period. Both teams would have scoring opportunities but Tikhon Chaika and Austin Elliott.

Saskatoon led the shot total 20-7 after 40 minutes of play.

Trailing after 40 minutes has not been kind to the Prince Albert Raiders this season. Entering play Saturday, the Raiders were 0-21-2-0 in games they were trailing after two periods, but Prince Albert was determined to flip that script against their arch rivals.

Truitt says the Raiders showed their true colors in the comeback effort.

“After two periods when you are behind, you are working so hard to get opportunities and you are forcing things. Sometimes that doesn’t work. [The] character of our guys came through here tonight and they wanted it and they were probably a bit embarrassed last night and came out with a great effort here tonight.”

Saskatoon’s Charlie Wright would be called for a hooking minor penalty just 0:18 into the final frame and the Raider power play would go to work.

Keaton Sorenson would collect a rebound in front of Saskatoon netminder Austin Elliott and the 20-year-old would make no mistake burying the second chance for his 15th goal of the season to knot the score at 1-1. Landon Kosior and Ryder Ritchie would be credited with assists on the goal.

The Raiders would be quick to take advantage of another Blade penalty. Justin Lies would be called for a late high sticking penalty on Ryder Ritchie during a scrum in front of the Blade net, sending Prince Albert to the man advantage.

It would take just 10 seconds for the Raider power play unit to give Prince Albert the lead and send the Raider faithful at the Art Hauser into a frenzy. Niall Crocker would strike with his 7th goal of the season at the 12:18 mark to give Prince Albert a 2-1 lead. Kosior and Sorenson would receive assists on the play.

Truitt says the crowd played a big factor in motivation for the Raiders, even when they didn’t find the score column in the first two periods.

“I mentioned it to the guys in between the first and second period that we had some offensive zone time and you could feel the crowd cheering the guys on. They appreciate the hard work and that’s what we want to do every night. The crowd was a big motivator for us in this one.”

It would only take 15 seconds for the Raiders to pick up an insurance tally. Eric Johnston would step into a slap shot from the point and rip it past Elliott for his 1st goal of the season to give the Raiders a two goal lead at 3-1. Hayden Pakkala would receive the lone assist.

Johnston says the atmosphere in the Art Hauser following the goal was a sight to see.

“It was amazing. You can’t even describe it. It was shaking so it was awesome.”

Landon Kosior appeared in his first game at the Art Hauser since Jan. 4 against the Calgary Hitmen. The overage defenseman says the atmosphere in the rink was incredible in the third period.

“It was amazing. It honestly gives me goosebumps just thinking about it right now. It was so loud especially after Erik got that goal. Those last five minutes were super loud cheering us on when we were trying to shut it down.”

The Raiders would hold the Blades off the scoreboard for the rest of the game as Tikhon Chaika stopped 24 of 25 Saskatoon shots to earn the victory in net for Prince Albert. 

With the win, the Raiders improve to 16-25-3-0 on the season.

The Raiders return to action on Jan. 29 when they travel to Prince George to take on the Cougars.