The search for the first Raider win of the 2022-2023 WHL season continues as Prince Albert fell 6-2 to the Winnipeg ICE at the Art Hauser Centre Wednesday.
The crowd was just settling into their seats at the Art Hauser Centre when Winnipeg opened the scoring 44 seconds in. Connor McClennon got a strong feed from Zach Benson and beat Raider netminder Tikhon Chaika.
Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says the team didn’t play with the grit needed to win against a contender like the ICE.
“We didn’t compete hard enough. We weren’t heavy enough. Our battle level wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be against a good team like this. In order to compete every night, you got to get in the dirty areas and win battles. We didn’t defend our net well. I think they scored 3 goals from the top of the crease. [We were] late to the coverage and just not strong enough. We got to be way better.”
Prince Albert would get on the board at the 6:41 mark of the first period as Ryder Ritchie picked up his first goal in the WHL, assisted by Vladislav Shilo.
Ritchie says the moment was pure joy when he found out he was credited as the goal scorer.
“I didn’t know if it was me or not, I just pointed at Shilo. He said it was me and I was just super excited after that.’
Wednesday also marked the season debuts of Landon Kosior and Carson Latimer, both fresh off training camp with the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators.
Truitt says the addition of the two returning veterans is a welcome sight.
“We need their skill; we need their speed and awareness. They got experience at NHL camps which will help our dressing room. I thought they were fine. They pushed the pace; I thought the composure with puck was pretty good and that’s what you expect from those guys.”
Winnipeg would take the lead at the 10:25 mark of the first period and never look back. Steven Arp would score his first goal in an ICE uniform after being acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers earlier this month.
In the second, Winnipeg would extend the lead to three as Connor McClennon scored his second night off assists from Owen Pederson and Zach Benson.
Niall Crocker would pull the Raiders within one at the 7:10 mark on the power play as the forward set up shop just outside the crease of ICE and took a strong feed from Evan Herman past Daniel Hauser to pull Prince Albert within one.
Steven Arp would answer for Winnipeg 4 minutes later with his second of the game assisted by Connor Dale.
Winnipeg would add two more goals in the third period from Aiden Oiring and Arizona Coyotes prospect Conor Geekie.
The Prince Albert Raiders fell to 0-2-1-0 on the year with the defeat. The Raiders have scored two goals or less in all three games so far this season.
Truitt says the key to the Raiders scoring more is to not be too selective with their opportunities.
“When we get chances to put pucks on the net, we try to get too fine with it and miss nets. Right now, we’re looking too fine, rather then maybe we get a second opportunity when we are in tight. When you’re missing nets and it’s going the other way, you are just feeding into their offense.”
The Raiders will travel to Moose Jaw on Friday night to take on the Warriors and will return home on Saturday night against the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings. The Raiders will be wearing orange jerseys in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Day.