The Prince Albert Raiders home opener did not go how they wished as the Regina Pats handed the Raiders a 3-1 loss on Friday. The first regular season game in Prince Albert in over a year saw 2,567 fans at the Art Hauser Centre saw phenom Connor Bedard lead the Pats to the win.
Raiders’ head coach Marc Habscheid was just happy to play a regular season game in front of fans again after last season was spent in the Regina bubble.
“ Sometimes in life you take things for granted, you don’t really appreciate them until it gets taken away and it got taken away from us for a year and a half. So I think everyone, whether it be the players, the staff or the fans, everybody realizes that it’s pretty special to be here,” Habscheid said.
This being the first game of the season Habscheid’s message after the loss was that there was still work to do.
“We’re a different team I think everyone understands there is a lot of new faces there and a lot of faces away. We just have to keep doing it the Raider way. We hung another banner which we are proud of so we have kind of got the blueprint we just have to stay with it,” he explained.
“Iit’s 67 games to go and we have got a lot of guys away and a lot of transition and turnover. We just have to be aware of that and be patient and just work with them and every day just get better and we will be better tomorrow than we were today,” he added.
The Pats led 2-0 after the first period and 2-1 after the second period.
Keaton Sorensen scored the Raiders first goal of the regular season and only goal of the night. He was also pleased to play a game in front of fans in the regular season again.
“It’s an awesome change. Playing in front of no fans is tough with gaining energy and stuff so you had to make your own energy. So having fans behind us was a great change,” Sorensen said.
Sorensen credited a great shift with linemates Michael Horon and Cale Sanders for the goal.
“It felt really good we had a good shift there, we took care of the defensive zone and we got rewarded, had a nice pass by (Cale Sanders) there and I was lucky enough to finish her,” Sorensen said
The Pats were led by Bedard who had a pair of goals for Regina. Drew Englot scored the Pats’ other goal. Habscheid joked that the best way to stop Bedard was to hide his sticks and skates.
“He’s a good player and I think we did a good job, he opportunistic but I thought we did a good job. He had the one chance and it was a good shot on the first one, the second one was in tight and he makes some good plays. Our penalty kill was good against him and five on five for the most part we really did a good job,” Habscheid said.
The Raiders controlled play more in the second period,
In the second period after a rush by the Pats’ Tanner Howe was wide of the net the Raiders’ Ethan Ironside took the puck the other way and hit a goalpost.
On a Pats’ power play in the middle of the second period Evan Herman had a shorthanded chance for the Raiders but was brought down from behind and awarded a penalty shot, Herman didn’t score.
“The penalty shot, if that one goes in, for sure, then Ironside hit the iron in the second period that would have made it 2-2 so that would have changed the complexion of the game completely so we wouldn’t have been chasing in our end. It wasn’t to be,” Habsheid said.
Ryker Evans added a pair of assists for Regina.
The Raiders’ Carter Serehyenko made 36. Mathew Kieper made 22 saves for the Pats.
The Raiders and Pats meet again in Regina tomorrow afternoon with the game broadcast nationwide on CBC at 1 p.m. The team had a short turnaround and the Raiders’ bus left Prince Albert at 6:15 a.m. Saturday morning.
“These kids get a chance to play on CBC. For some of these guys that’s maybe a once in a lifetime thing so I don’t think they will have a problem loading the bus and being on the bus at 6:15 to travel four hours to play and be on CBC,” Habscheid said.
The short turnaround will also help the players according to Sorensen.
“We just got to regroup and just forget about what just happened and you have to come back with a new mindset, it’s a new game,” Sorensen said.