Raiders open pre-season with 2-1 win over Saskatoon on Big River First Nation

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Riley Boychuk of the Prince Albert Raiders handles a puck during WHL pre-season action at the Jim Neilson Sportsplex on Big River First Nation on Sept. 6, 2023

The Prince Albert Raiders started the 2023 WHL Pre-Season on the right foot with a 2-1 win over the Saskatoon Blades at the Jim Neilson Sportsplex on Big River First Nation.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he was happy with how Prince Albert improved as the game progressed.

“(There was) nerves in the first. Lots of turnovers by both teams, that’s expected. As the game went on in the second period, I thought that we played real well, carrying most of the action and responded real well after having to kill some penalties. And then in the third, I thought that it showed our work, and it showed the commitment of the guys not only to get to a goal, but to defend.”

2021 second round pick Zach Moore opened the scoring for Saskatoon with just 12.5 seconds to go in the opening frame, firing a wrist shot past Raider netminder Cooper Anderson to give the Blades a 1-0 lead after twenty minutes of play.

The Raiders would draw even at the 13:27 mark of the middle frame. Justice Christensen would fire a point shot and Harrison Lodewyk would redirect it past Blade netminder Ryley Budd to even the score at 1-1.

The Raiders would take the lead less then a minute into the third period as Doogan Pederson’s point shot through traffic would find twine to give Prince Albert a 2-1 lead just 0:35 into the final frame.

Raider goaltender Cooper Anderson would earn the win on the afternoon, making 19 saves for Prince Albert. Ryley Budd stopped 28 of 30 shots for Saskatoon.

Truitt says he was pleased with what he saw out of the 16-year-old Anderson.

“I thought he was fine. He made some saves on their power plays. It was pretty good. He faced some tough shots. I thought he was good. Poised, rebound control was pretty good, but he was in the game. He was focused and recognized plays before they happened. I really liked what I saw out of Cooper.”

It was the second consecutive year that the Raiders have started the pre-season with a win over the Saskatoon Blades. Last year, the Raiders defeated Saskatoon by a score of 6-3.

Truitt says the Raiders were excited to be invited back to Big River First Nation

“Last year, we got to spend a few days here, which is great with our team, and then being able to come back again. Great building and the fans are terrific. We get treated so well once we get here. It’s a pleasure to come here every year.”

The Raiders continue the pre-season on Saturday night when they welcome the Saskatoon Blades to the Art Hauser Centre.  Puck drops at 7 p.m.