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Home Sports Raiders losing streak ends at six with 5-2 win over Hitmen

Raiders losing streak ends at six with 5-2 win over Hitmen

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Raiders losing streak ends at six with 5-2 win over Hitmen
Tikhon Chaika makes one of his 30 saves on Riley Fiddler-Schultz in the first period of a 5-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen on Tuesday night at the Art Hauser Centre. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders ended their six game slide in a big way, beating the Calgary Hitmen 5-2 on Tuesday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

Cale Sanders notched his second straight two goal performance, while Tikhon Chaika made 30 saves in his 24th straight appearance.

“We took a lot less penalties and I thought our team game was good,” head coach Marc Habscheid said. “In the third period we cleaned up our neutral zone a little bit and generated way more offense.”

A beautiful goal by the Calgary Hitmen opened the scoring with 6:44 left in the first period. Anton Astashevic faked a wraparound try behind the Raider goal, and fed a backhand pass the opposite way in front. Brandon Whynott was right on the doorstep for the pass, and he converted on the play, one timing a shot past a diving Chaika. For the fifth straight game, the Raiders surrendered the first goal of the game.

Tayem Gislason answered for Prince Albert shortly after with a laser shot from the point. Reece Vitelli slid a pass over to the Raider defenceman, who had all the time in the world to load up a shot. A blistering snapper found the far side on Brayden Peters, who couldn’t react with the glove in time for the shot. Just 3:58 after the Hitmen opened the scoring, Gislason’s third goal of the year evened things up at 1-1.

The Raiders and Hitmen ended a fast paced first tied at one, with Calgary leading in shots 14-11.

Cale Sanders scored his third goal in two games in the second period. The Raiders had a brief man advantage as a Calgary player was injured on the ice. Prince Albert had possession of the puck, however, so the officials did not blow the whistle.

Hayden Pakkala took advantage of the situation and sent a pass in front for Sanders, who one timed a shot home. His ninth goal of the season gave Prince Albert a 2-1 lead with 13:07 left in the middle frame.

“We’ve been battling the past six games,” Sanders said. “We were happy with our performance tonight and had been over the past couple of games, and we kept working hard. We knew eventually (a win) was going to come.”

A mad scramble in front of the Raider goal led to Blake Stevenson tying the game on a Hitmen powerplay. With Chaika down and desperate in the crease, multiple Hitmen forwards took whacks at the loose puck. Eventually, Stevenson was the forward to bang it home to tie the game at 2-2 with his 17th goal of the season.

Keaton Sorenson broke the tie in the third period, converting on a pretty tic-tac-toe play. Reece Vitelli led a three-on-two rush into the Calgary zone and fed a pass across to Carson Latimer, who then sent a pass over to Sorenson. Right on the doorstep, Sorenson was able to bang home his eighth goal of the season. With 15:01 left in regulation, the Raiders took their second lead of the night, making it a 3-2 score.

The Raiders put in the shift of the game short handed midway through the third period. After Sloan Stanick and Reece Vitelli helped kill off the first half of the Hitmen powerplay, it was Cale Sanders’ turn to go to work. Peters went to play the puck behind the net with Sanders forechecking the Hitmen goalie, and Peters was forced to make a risky pass to his defenceman. Sanders was able to steal the puck and work his way in on Peters.

With time to target a shot, Sanders ripped one glove side past Peters, giving Prince Albert a huge two goal lead. His second of the contest made it a 4-2 game.

“That could’ve been a tie game and then all of a sudden it’s a two goal swing,” Habscheid said. “Sanders has played well, he’s smart. He’s not going to win any fastest skater competitions, but he’s smart and makes up for it with his hockey IQ.”

With the Calgary net empty, Landon Kosior sealed the deal with an empty net marker to make it a 5-2 Raider lead with 1:28 left in the third.

Chaika made some big saves in goal all night as the Raiders snapped their six game losing streak, improving to 16-24-1-1.

“It’s hard to prepare mentally to play every game,” Chaika said. “But when you play on a great team like this, and feel the belief in the coaches, it’s no big deal for me. I just try my best and work hard.”

Next up for Prince Albert is a road date in Moose Jaw against the Warriors on Friday. They return home on Saturday night to host the Lethbridge Hurricanes puck drop is 7 p.m.

@kyle_kosowan•sports@paherald.sk.ca