Raiders pick up weekend sweep with win over Oil Kings

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Prince Albert Raiders forward Sloan Stanick handles the puck during WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre earlier this season

The Prince Albert Raiders finished off a perfect weekend in Alberta, downing the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-1 on Saturday evening at Roger’s Place.

Raider head Jeff Truitt says the character of the team really showed in the victory.

“We kind of stumbled for a while. We didn’t make clean plays, we’re getting depth scoring from guys, which is great. We took too many penalties here tonight.  But when it’s all said and done, our character kind of came through. We were in a tight game. We were down 1 -0. We come back, we get to 2 -1. Still tight, and then we got two goals. I thought that our character and the way that our team came together to grind out this win was really important and they got the job done.”

Adam Jecho would open the scoring at the 11:43 mark as the Czech forward would find the back of the net on the power play for his fifth of the season. Gavin Hodnett and Marc Lajoie assisted on the play.

The Raider forecheck would lead to a key turnover near the Oil King blueline and Aiden Oiring would be sprung on a breakaway as a result and he would make no mistake evening the score at 1-1 at the 15:29 mark of the first period with his third goal of the season.

The Raiders would take their first lead of the game at the 9:13 mark of the second period. Hayden Pakkala would serve an aerial pass to Matej Kubiesa, who was sprung on a partial breakaway and the Czechia product would make no mistake with a beautiful move for his second goal of the season. 

It was the second consecutive night that an import player had the game winning goal for the Raiders with Krzyszstof Macias recording a hat trick in Friday’s 6-2 win in Red Deer.

Truitt says both Kubiesa and Macias are finding their stride in North America.

“They’re finding their confidence in a whole new league, a whole new venue and everything. They’re getting more and more comfortable as we go along. Their play is improving an awful lot. They’re pulling the trigger and scoring goals when their opportunities arise.  So right now, they’re doing simple things to get momentum and pucks through the neutral zone. But once they go to work in that offensive zone, they’re finding their way to get quality shots and they’re scoring.” 

Tyrone Sobry also was credited with an assist on Kubiesa’s goal. The assist was the first career WHL point for Tyrone Sobry.

Sobry appeared in both games over the weekend, making his WHL debut in Red Deer after being a healthy scratch to start the season.

Truitt says Sobry showed promising signs early in his WHL career.

“Well, I thought that he was really good last night. I thought he was very simple with his game. Didn’t make anything too complicated. Just little plays, just bumping the puck, keeping pucks going and making good plays in the neutral zone, he was hitting the tape all the time, keeping the play going north. For a guy in his first couple of games, he’s showing confidence in his playmaker. He’s always a good player. Perhaps at the beginning of the season, we thought that he needed a little bit more practice time and whatnot to get used to the pace and the strength of everything. But when he got his opportunity last night in Red Deer, I thought he did a real good job and stuck with him in the game here tonight. He’s done a good job”

Edmonton would press for the equalizer, but it would be the Raiders who would pick up a huge insurance goal at the 14:55 mark as Carter Anderson picked up his first goal of the season going high glove side past Kolby Hay to give Prince Albert a 3-1 lead. Kubiesa and Pakkala added assists on the play.

An empty net goal from Ryder Ritchie put a bow on a 4-1 Prince Albert Raider win. Harrison Lodewyk would be credited with an assist.

Max Hildebrand started for the second consecutive game after making 33 saves in Red Deer on Friday night. The Martensville product made 35 saves victories to earn his third victory of the campaign and first star honors in the hockey contest.

“He was the difference when it came to not only the penalty kill, but the game in general.” Truitt said about Hildebrand’s performance. “He battled all night long when pucks were bouncing around in the crease and their forwards were near it and whatnot.  He found a way to keep it out. And sometimes a little bit unorthodox but he got the job done. He had to deal with a lot of traffic and a lot of sticks in his crease and he battled hard.”

With the win, the Raiders improved to 4-3-0-0 on the season to get above .500. A slow start hampered Prince Albert a season ago and the team never got above the .500 mark at any point during the 2022-23 campaign.

Truitt says the Raiders have plenty of room for improvement, but being above .500 is huge for the team’s momentum early in the season.

“I think it’s a huge thing. You can sit here and take a look at it and say you’re one game over .500 after game seven. There’s a long way to go, but you sooner have it that way than the other way looking up. We’ve been there last year. This year, we’re a little bit above the curve, which is good. We’ve got to be over .500 all the time and continue to improve and to be more efficient in games and not make it hard on ourselves.  The whole mental thing about us being over .500 is great, but short lived because you got a long way to go.”

The Raiders return to action on Friday, Oct 13 when they welcome the Calgary Hitmen to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.