Raiders in must-win situation at Memorial Cup

Vincent Ethier/CHL Images Prince Albert Raiders forward Noah Gregor stretches out for the puck while Rouyn-Noranda Huskies blueliner Noah Dobson gives chase during Monday’s round-robin game at the Memorial Cup in Halifax.

The task is simple for the Prince Albert Raiders.

The Western Hockey League champions need to beat the Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm on Tuesday at the Memorial Cup in Halifax to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Otherwise, their 2018-19 campaign will come to an end.

The Raiders dropped to 0-2 in the round-robin following a 6-3 loss to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Monday at the Scotiabank Centre, in a game that was much closer than the final outcome would indicate.

“I thought we deserved better,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We should have won that game.”

“We had a lot of chances and a lot of posts. I think we hit five or six posts and missed three or four open nets. It didn’t go our way but I liked a lot about our game tonight.”

It also marked the 11th straight round-robin defeat for a WHL title holder at the tournament since the Kelowna Rockets lost in overtime to the Oshawa Generals at the 2015 Memorial Cup in Quebec City.

The Red Deer Rebels and the Regina Pats made it to the semifinal and championship game respectively in 2016 and 2018, but they were both serving as the hosts for the event. H

The contest was tied up at three with five minutes remaining in regulation, but the Huskies would score twice in an 85-second span to build up a two-goal cushion.

Tyler Hinam got his second goal of the night with 4:32 on a play that was started by a Noah Dobson rush to give the Huskies the lead.

They would extend that gap moments later on a shot by Joel Teasdale, while Dobson rounded out the scoring with an empty net goal with 1:42 to go.

“It was a must-win for us after our loss in the first game to Guelph on Saturday,” Huskies head coach and general manager Mario Pouliot said.

“We had a tough time trying to cut down their speed but once we put more pressure on them and cutting down their space, we had more scoring chances. It’s a good win, but we know that we can play better than that.”

Teasdale had a pair of goals in the victory for the Huskies, who got a goal and an assist each from Felix Bibeau and Dobson.

Samuel Harvey bounced back from a tough result on Saturday against the Storm with a 30-save showing.

Noah Gregor was dominant for the Raiders as he had a goal and two assists.

Cole Fonstad had a goal and an assist in the loss, which saw Brayden Pachal find the back of the net and Ian Scott turn aside 27 shots.

Parker Kelly, Sean Montgomery and Brett Leason had a number of great chances to find the back of the net during the game, but were unable to light the lamp.

“If we play the same way tomorrow like we did tonight, we should be okay,” Habscheid said.

“I liked a lot of our game today, especially the start, and we need to keep that belief with our guys as we get ready to face Guelph.”

As the Raiders gear up for a must-win contest Tuesday against the 1-1 Storm, the 1-1 Huskies are off until Wednesday when they will take on the 2-0 Halifax Mooseheads in a game that could determine who gets a bye into Sunday’s final.

With files from Brad Coccimiglio