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Home Sports Raiders hold onto third period lead, pick up huge 3-2 victory over Hurricanes

Raiders hold onto third period lead, pick up huge 3-2 victory over Hurricanes

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Raiders hold onto third period lead, pick up huge 3-2 victory over Hurricanes
Raider captain Reece Vitelli celebrates his second period goal that gave Prince Albert a 2-0 lead over the Hurricanes on Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

It’s not easy to win a hockey game when you’re outshot 46-22, but the Prince Albert Raiders found a way.

Tikhon Chaika made 44 stops, and Carson Latimer snapped a 16 game goal-less drought, as the Raiders picked up a much-needed 3-2 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday.

“I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty,” head coach Marc Habscheid said after the game. “A win is a win. We faced a lot of adversity tonight. It was an intense game. Both teams are fighting for the same playoff spot, and we got the points.”

It was another slow start to the game for the Raiders, who were outshot 16-5 in the first period by the Hurricanes. Lethbridge had two powerplays in the final ten minutes of the first, but Tikhon Chaika made a handful of nice saves, keeping the game scoreless after the opening 20 minutes of play. Bryan Thompson was relatively quiet between the pipes for Lethbridge, as Prince Albert wasn’t really able to create any dangerous chances in the offensive zone.

The Raiders couldn’t ask for a better start to the second period, scoring twice in the first three and a half minutes. Evan Herman kicked things off with a weird goal from near the goal line for his 17th goal of the season. Herman attempted a centering pass in front for Carson Latimer, but the puck deflected off of a defenceman’s skate in front and went in. The fortunate bounce put Prince Albert in front 1-0 just 1:38 into the second.

Reece Vitelli followed suit with another goal just under two minutes later. Sloan Stanick sent the Raider captain a pass in the slot, and Vitelli sniped a shot past Thompson for his 16th tally of the year. After a less than impressive start to the game, the Raiders came out guns blazing, storming out to a 2-0 lead.

“I think those first two goals were key,” Habscheid said. “It’s a good learning game for our guys, because not all the time are things going to be smooth. You have to adjust and learn on the fly.”

A mess in the slot led to the Hurricanes scoring their first goal of the contest. After a multi body collision, Joe Arnsten was able to dig out the loose puck. A two man breakaway led to Arnsten slipping a pass across for Jett Jones, who was able to tap the puck into the wide open net for his 10th goal of the season.

After assisting on the Hurricanes first goal of the game, Arnsten scored a goal of his own to tie things up. With 4:31 left in the second, the defenceman blasted a slap shot from the point. Chaika was arguing with the official after the puck went in, feeling he was interfered with in the crease, but Habscheid decided not to challenge the play.

After the quick start to the middle frame, the Raiders found themselves back at square one, even at 2-2, and heavily outshot 35-13 through two periods.

Carson Latimer had some of the best chances in the third period to put the Raiders back in front. It started off with an odd man rush that Latimer led down the right wing. The Raider forward kept the puck and fired a shot that beat Thompson, but not the goal post. Moments later, Stanick sent a pass across for Latimer, who made no mistake on the follow up opportunity, burying his 10th of the year.

After playing outstanding defense to begin the final regulation frame, Prince Albert turned it into offense, taking a 3-2 lead.

“As soon as I got that, I knew our guys would hold on,” Latimer said. “I thought we were so strong tonight, and our team went to work.”

Some huge blocks late in the third period mixed in with even more clutch saves by Chaika allowed the Raiders to hold onto the lead, collecting a very important win.

“It was unreal,” Latimer added about the last few minutes of the game. “The guys were giving it their all out there. That’s what a good team does, and we did good tonight. We know we have to start pulling some wins together here, so we’re going to have to go on a bit of a run and keep playing strong here.”

Prince Albert improves to 17-25-1-1 with the win, pulling within three points of Lethbridge in the wild card race. Habscheid says every game is becoming more and more critical as the season draws to an end.

“We’re running out of games,” he said. “We’re going to be playing a lot of teams that are fighting for the same playoff spot, and obviously you don’t want them to get the points. It was a big game, and we’re not going to shy away. The guys found a way and they gutted it out.”

The Raiders are back in action on Friday night at home against the Regina Pats.

@kyle_kosowan•sports@paherald.sk.ca