Raiders give up two late goals, drop 3-2 contest in Red Deer

Ozzy Wiesblatt had a pair of assists in Red Deer on Friday night, but was ejected in the third period after taking a spearing major and a game misconduct. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders let a late third period lead slip away, as they dropped their first contest of their five game road trip, 3-2 to the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night. In his second WHL start, Max Hildebrand put in a solid effort, stopping 34 of 37 shots, but the Rebels scored twice in the final four minutes, denying the Raiders of a crucial two points.

“We’re disappointed,” head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We had a chance to get some points, and we didn’t get it done. We had a couple of mistakes late, and it cost us.”

Sloan Stanick opened the scoring just 3:34 into the contest on a Raider powerplay. Ozzy Wiesblatt threw a centering pass in front that was deflected by Rebels defenceman Christoffer Sedoff, but the puck came loose near the crease. Stanick took a whack at it that was stopped by Connor Ungar, but he was able to stick with it and jam the rebound try home for his 16th goal of the season, giving Prince Albert the early 1-0 lead.

Terrell Goldsmith and Dallon Melin dropped the gloves with six minutes left in the opening frame. An entertaining exchange between the two led to the Raider defenceman getting the upper hand, and dragging Melin down to the ice.

After an entertaining first, Prince Albert took a 1-0 lead into the second period, leading in shots 7-6.

The Rebels tied the game on a powerplay of their own in the second, as Ben King leveled the score with seeing eye shot from near the point. Taking a rink wide pass from Sedoff, the Rebels leading goal scorer sniped home his 18th powerplay goal, and 38th overall goal of the season, tying the game at 1-1.

Hildebrand was forced to make a series of big saves for the remainder of the second period, including a couple of in close chances from Melin. Making 16 saves in the middle frame, Hildebrand helped keep the game tied heading into the third.

Landon Kosior put the Raiders back on top in the third on another Raider powerplay. Wiesblatt picked up his second assist of the night, sending a pass to the right circle for the defenceman. From Ovechkin’s office, Kosior ripped a one timer past Ungar, and Prince Albert took their second lead of the night, going up 2-1.

“I thought we played pretty good,” Habscheid said. “We didn’t generate a lot on five on five after the first period. Other than that, I thought we were okay, our powerplay was good, and we couldn’t quite finish the job.”

Red Deer continued to apply relentless pressure late in the third period, and were rewarded with the game tying goal with 4:08 left in regulation. Kyle Masters jumped on a rebound chance from the left circle and ripped a shot far side past Hildebrand’s glove to make it a 2-2 game.

The Rebels weren’t done there, either. With less than two minutes to go, Arshdeep Bains ripped a one timer from the slot that Hildebrand made the initial save on, but the puck came loose in the crease. King pounced on the rebound from behind the net, banging it home for his second of the night, and more importantly, giving the home side a 3-2 lead.

To make matters worse, on the ensuing faceoff at center ice, Wiesblatt took a five minute spearing major, meaning the Raiders would have to attempt a comeback shorthanded. Unable to do so, Red Deer pulled off the comeback win, coming away with the 3-2 win.

“We just have to play,” Habscheid added. “We have to play good defense. We don’t score a lot, so we have to play good defensively.”

With the loss, the Raiders fall to 19-27-2-1, and with 41 points, they sit three back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Prince Albert is back in action on Saturday night in Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings. Puck drop is at 8pm.

Around the WHL

The Calgary Hitmen pummeled the Hurricanes 8-1 in Lethbridge on Friday. The Hitmen hold the seventh seed with 45 points, while the Hurricanes are on the outside looking in with 43.

The Moose Jaw Warriors helped the Raiders out on Friday night as well, as they stomped the Swift Current Broncos 7-0. The Broncos are clinging onto the final playoff spot with 44 points.

The Edmonton Oil Kings took down the Regina Pats by a 6-3 final at home on Friday night. The Pats could have leapfrogged the Raiders with a win, but sit one point behind Prince Albert with 40.