Raiders pick up win over Hitmen

Photo by Mark Peterson Media. Ryder Ritchie throws a mini stick into the stands following a Raider win on Friday night

The Prince Albert Raiders kicked off a four game homestand on the right foot, downing the Calgary Hitmen 4-3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday night.

Head coach Jeff Truitt says it was important for the Raiders to pick up two points on home ice.

“The focus is coming off another road trip, coming back here and getting the two points. It’s important for the standings and just getting momentum at home. We haven’t had it in a little while here. It’s great to get the two points here tonight.”

The Raiders would open the scoring at the 7:01 mark of the opening period.

Justice Christensen would fire a point shot through traffic and past Hitmen netminder Ethan Buenaventura for his sixth goal of the season. Terrell Goldsmith had the lone assist on the play.

After a holding minor against Calgary’s Brandon Gorzynski, the Raider power play would go to work.

Matej Kubiesa would pick up his fifth goal of the season on the man advantage with a shot from the left circle that would go five hole past Buenaventura. Eric Johnston and Hayden Pakkala. 

It was the first goal for Kubiesa in over a month with his last goal coming on Oct. 29 in a 5-4 Raider loss in Moose Jaw.

Shots were tied at 16 apiece after twenty minutes of play.

Sean Tschigerl would pull the Hitmen within a single goal at the 16:45 mark of the second period.

The overager would be sprung on a breakaway after leaving the penalty box and he would make no mistake beating Max Hildebrand for his 13th goal of the campaign.

The Raiders would respond immediately off the following faceoff.

Prince Albert would win the draw and Sloan Stanick would carry the puck up the left wing and would find twine for the 11th time this season to restore the two goal Raider lead at 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Shots were tied at 29-29 after the second period.

The Raider lead would extend to three at the 6:34 mark of the third period.

Ryder Ritchie would strike for his 13th goal of the season with a wrist shot from the left circle on the power play. Sloan Stanick provided the lone helper.

It was the first goal for Ritchie in nearly three weeks with his last goal coming November 14 in Seattle.

Truitt says Ritchie has had some quality chances in recent games.

“He’s had some looks over time, but he’s been snakebitten here a bit and I know that he takes a lot of pride in his offense and especially his goal scoring. I thought he was going to have one on a two on one earlier, but they made a save on it. But it was great to see one go in for him for sure.”

Ritchie says he wanted to do all he could to help the Raiders win, even if he wasn’t contributing in the goal column.

“My whole life, I haven’t really gone eight games without scoring, so doing it this year, it’s a big year for me, a big year for the team,so it’s definitely frustrating, but just focus on the next game, your next shift, and focus on that next chance, and hopefully it will go in, and it did tonight.”

Calgary would respond just over twenty seconds later.

Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Fraser Leonard would lean into a slapshot that would beat Hildebrand for his first career WHL goal. Chase Valliant had the lone assist.

The Hitmen would pull within a single tally at the 11:53 mark with a short handed tally as Oliver Tulk would strike for his 18th goal this season. Carter Yakemchuk had the lone assist.

That would be as close as the Hitmen would get as Max Hildebrand made 36 saves in the win for Prince Albert.

Ethan Buenaventura made 31 saves for Calgary.

The Raiders return to action at 7 p.m. Saturday when they host the Red Deer Rebels.