Raiders push their way past the Pats

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Ozzy Wiesblatt, pictured here in a pre-season game against the Regina Pats earlier this month, was one of three Prince Albert Raiders to record three points at the Brandt Centre Friday night.

It took a little bit for the Prince Albert Raiders to get rolling on offence Friday night.

Once it did, the Regina Pats had no answer for it.

Ozzy Wiesblatt, Aliaksei Protas and a debuting Brayden Watts all had three-point nights at the Brandt Centre as the Raiders improved to 2-0-1-0 with a 5-2 triumph over their East Division rivals.

“We started off pretty sloppy as Regina took it to us and they outworked us,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.

“After the first period (where the Pats took a 2-0 lead) we regained our composure and started to compete more. The power play goal that we got late in the second was big as that gave us a bit of energy and then we scored again a few seconds later. After that point, I thought we carried the play.”

Those two second period markers, which occurred with less than four minutes to go in the frame, saw rookie forwards Cole Nagy and Evan Herman pick up their first career WHL goals in a 26-second span.

“It’s big for those guys to get those goals early in the year as it gets that goose egg out of the way and it helps to take some pressure off of them,” Habscheid said.

“It was also huge for us in that point of the game, because if they (Regina) get a third goal, it’s probably over.”

From that point on, the evening belonged to Watts, Protas and Wiesblatt as they provided all of the offence in the final 20 minutes.

“I think all three of them were able to build off of the energy that we got from those goals in the second period,” Habscheid said.

“I thought they went to the net a little bit more and that forced their defence into some different positions.”

It was an impressive showing for Watts, who finished the night with two goals and an assist, as he made his first appearance for the Raiders after being acquired from the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday.

“He’s a smart player with a great shot, but what I like the most is how he competes,” Habscheid said. “He goes to the net, creates space for the other guys around him and he plays the right way. We’re glad to have him with us.”

Protas had a goal and two assists in the win, while Wiesblatt dished out three helpers.

Boston Bilous turned aside 23 shots for the visitors as he made his third straight start in goal.

The Pats, who now have a 1-2 record heading into a Sunday afternoon clash with the Winnipeg Ice, got both of their goals from Riley Krane and received 24 saves from Danton Belluk in his Western Hockey League debut.

The Raiders will return to the Art Hauser Centre Saturday as they’ll go up against the Ice at 7 p.m. to start off a six-game home stand.

Post-Game Notes

Friday saw Jakob Brook make his first appearance of the season for the Raiders after he was sidelined with an injury that he sustained at Hockey Canada’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup selection camp in late July.

The 17-year-old recorded a point in his return to the lineup as he has an assist on Herman’s second period marker.

The Raiders have now won four straight games at the Brandt Centre, with their last loss coming on March 14, 2018.

Carter Serhyenko, Zack Hayes, Ivan Kechkin, Cohner Saleski and Tyson Laventure did not dress for the visitors, while the Pats scratched Max Paddock, Sam McGinley, Duncan Pierce and Cale Sanders.

Friday’s Scores

  • Moose Jaw 5 Brandon 0 (Bailey Brkin – 22 Saves – Fourth Career Shutout)
  • Calgary 4 Edmonton 3 (Carson Focht Overtime Winner – James Malm – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Kamloops 3 Kelowna 2 (Ryan Hughes Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Red Deer 5 Lethbridge 2 (Josh Tarzwell – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Winnipeg 7 Saskatoon 6 (Nino Kinder – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick – Kyle Crnkovic – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Tri-City 3 Seattle 1 (Sasha Mutala – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Medicine Hat 2 Swift Current 0 (Mads Sogaard – 25 Saves – Fourth Career Shutout)
  • Portland 4 Vancouver 2 (Tyson Kozak – Two Goals)
  • Victoria 2 Prince George 1 (Taylor Gauthier – 33 Saves)

Pre-Game Notes

Saturday’s meeting with the Raiders is the first for the Ice at the Art Hauser Centre since the franchise relocated from Cranbrook, B.C. at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

The Raiders won all four meetings against the Ice last season and are currently riding a six-game win streak over the side that dates back to Nov. 29, 2017.

The Ice will be looking to end an eight-game losing skid in Prince Albert on Saturday, as their last road win against the Raiders came on Jan. 16, 2015.

Following a wild 7-6 win over the Saskatoon Blades at the SaskTel Centre Friday, the Ice have a 2-1 record and have picked up victories in both of their road games.

On the health front, goaltender Jesse Makaj is out with an illness and blueliner Chase Hartje is week-to-week with an upper body injury.

Captain Peyton Krebs is at the Vegas Golden Knights’ training camp as he continues to recover from an off-season Achilles injury, while highly-touted 2004-born forward Matthew Savoie did not make the road trip with the team as he’s suiting up for the Rink Hockey Academy this weekend.

Savoie, who is expected to play in half of the Ice’s games this season before joining the WHL full-time next year, had three goals and five assists on Friday in an 11-1 romp over the Banff Hockey Academy.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Brandon vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Winnipeg vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Red Deer – 7 p.m.
  • Swift Current vs. Medicine Hat – 7:30 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Kamloops – 8 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Kelowna – 8 p.m.
  • Tri-City vs. Spokane – 8 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Victoria – 8 p.m.