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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Home Sports Raiders rebound for convincing victory over Blades

Raiders rebound for convincing victory over Blades

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Raiders rebound for convincing victory over Blades
Officials break up a third period scrum between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday, March 19. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders had the bounce back game they were looking for on Saturday in more ways than one.

Three days after giving up three second period goals in a loss to Swift Current, the Raiders rebounded with three second period goals to beat the Saskatoon Blades 4-1 at the Art Hauser Centre.

“I loved the response,” coach Marc Habscheid said afterwards. “When we start playing playoff type hockey we’re pretty consistent. Playing Swift Current, we kind of stubbed our toe there, but it’s (about) how you respond, and the guys responded well.”

The Raiders came flying out of the gate, hemming Saskatoon in their own end of the rink for much of the first period and running up a 15-5 lead in the shot department. The club didn’t break the deadlock until the second period, but once they did the goals starting to come.

“We knew we had to be better after last game,” captain Reece Vitelli said. “We needed points…. Tonight, we got them. We’re just moving our feet, (and) playing together as a team. Guys stepped up and it was awesome.”

“It was one of those games were our first period was pretty dominant,” Habscheid added. “The start of the second was too, and then if they happen to sneak one it, all of a sudden they get belief….

“We knew that first goal was important, especially going into the second period. We got it, and then seemed to really carry the period from there.”

Vitellie, Vladislav Shilo and Landon Kosior had the goals for Prince Albert, while Tikhon Chaika rebounded from being pulled on Wednesday to stop 25 of 26 shots he faced.

Josh Paulhus had the lone goal for the visitors, while Nolan Maier made 31 saves in a losing cause.

“Whenever we beat the Blades it’s awesome,” Vitelli said. “The crowd was unreal tonight—one of the biggest crowds of the year, definitely. They were so loud. It was awesome.”

The game started at a blistering pace, with very few whistles in the first 10 minutes of play. The Raiders had plenty of chances, with Sloan Stannick hitting the post and Nolan Allan rattling a shot off the crossbar in the dying seconds, but neither team could break the deadlock.

That changed less than two minutes into the second when Reece Vitelli slid the puck under Maier’s pads from a sharp angle to make it 1-0.

The Raiders added to their lead just over a minute later when Evan Herman picked a Blades defenceman’s pocket and found Shilo all alone in front of the Saskatoon net. The Belarussian forward stickhandled around Maier and flipped the puck inside to make it 2-0.

The Blades made things close around the halfway mark. Josh Paulus let a wrist shot go from inside the blueline that handcuffed Chaika. The puck slipped through the Raider netminder’s glove and trickled into the net. It was the only blemish on an otherwise solid night from the Belarussian goaltender.

The Raiders responded 1:22 seconds later. Landon Kosior’s point shot snuck into the bottom corner of the net with all kinds of traffic in front, putting the Raiders up 3-1.

It would remain that way until the dying minutes of the third, when Vitelli scored his second of the night into an empty net.

The win puts the Raiders two points up on the Calgary Hitmen, who did not play on Saturday. The team also sits one point up on the Regina Pats, who lost 10-4 in Moose Jaw.

The Raiders still find themselves in ninth, however, thanks to the Swift Current Broncos, who beat Medicine Hat 5-1 on Friday, and 2-0 on Saturday.

The Broncos hold the final playoff spot with 53 points, followed by Prince Albert with 52 and Regina with 51.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes sit seventh with 56 points. They beat Red Deer 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday.

News and notes:

Defenceman Landon Kosior left the game after taking a puck to the head during a second period Saskatoon powerplay.

The Raiders defenceman had to be helped off the ice by trainers, but returned in time to close out the game.

“It was a little cut in the ear, but those hurt in the ear,” Habscheid said afterwards. “ You get the cauliflower ear, and it gets pretty sensitive, but between periods, he wasn’t coming out. He wanted to play.”

Kosior picked up his 16th goal of the season on Saturday. That’s just two behind Chad Nychuk of Brandon, who leads all WHL defenceman with 18.

“He (Kosior) has turned into quite a player,” Habscheid said.

The Raiders are still without forward Ozzy Wiesblatt. The San Jose Sharks first rounder missed Wednesday’s game against Swift Current with an upper body injury, and was not on the roster again on Saturday.

Wiesblatt has led the Raiders in scoring for most of the season. Captain Reece Vitelli passed him on Saturday thanks to a three point night.

Defenceman Trevor Thurston was back in the lineup for the first time in almost a month. The 6’3, 198 lbs Delta, B.C. product hasn’t played since Feb. 21, when he picked up a pair of major penalties and a game misconduct in the dying seconds of Prince Albert’s 4-1 win over Medicine Hat.

Thurston finished Saturday’s contest with one shot, no points, and no penalty minutes.