Moose Jaw — At the end of a tight Game 4 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday night, Prince Albert Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid promised that his team would do more than just show up for Game 5, a potential elimination game for the Western Hockey League club.
On Saturday night, the Raiders delivered on their coach’s promise, routing the Warriors 5-1 to stave off elimination and leave the Moose Jaw club with a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-seven quarter final playoff series.
Prince Albert scored in every period, out-checked the Warriors and chased goalie Brody Willms from net after he allowed the Raiders their fifth goal, which forced Warriors head coach Tim Hunter to replace Willms with Adam Evanoff in the third period.
“I think right from the start we had it going, and I think our defensive game went pretty good as well. We weren’t in the box as much,” Raiders alternate captain Parker Kelly said. “So all of those little factors kind of contributed tonight, and that played a big part in why we were so dominant.”
Kelly’s tip-in goal from a Brayden Pachal point shot late in the first period wound up being the game-winner for his team; it was the Raiders’ second goal of the game.
Kelly was grinding down low in the corner on Willms’ left side; he eventually worked the puck up the boards to Pachal, who put the slapper high on net. Kelly tipped the puck down low so that it bounced under Willms.
The Raiders were also powered by centreman Sean Montgomery’s multi-goal night: He opened the game’s scoring midway through the first, and he netted a deadly wrist shot – his team’s fourth goal – at 4:15 in the third period from Willms’ left faceoff circle.
“We did pretty good. We got pucks to the net and were rewarded for it,” Montgomery said of his team’s play.
His second goal beat Willms on his low blocker side, which appears to be a weak spot for the Moose Jaw netminder: Curtis Miske scored the Raiders’ fifth goal from the same spot, with the same shot at the same target.
It’s been a hole the Raiders have been exploiting as of late, thanks to the work of their goaltending coach.
“I don’t think we knew it all season,” Kelly said, “but our goaltending consultant, Kelly Guard, did a scouting report on him, and he showed that 40 per cent I think it was go low blocker. All the boys have been finding it well, and Miske and all those guys have been finding the holes.”
The Raiders also found success on Saturday with their heavy, physical forecheck, which accounted for several of Moose Jaw’s turnovers, and P.A.’s first two goals.
“They maybe have more skill than us, but we try to work our hardest and get in on the forecheck, and that seemed to be helping us,” Montgomery said.
The Warriors also seemed to mostly abandon a checking game, which had in part allowed them to gain some control and momentum in Game 4 on Wednesday.
On Saturday, the club seemed mostly uninterested in engaging the Raiders in body checking.
Prince Albert also had a goal from defenceman Max Martin, who scored a top-shelf blast from the point that just beat Willms while the Raiders were on the power play.
In his assessment of Game 5, Habscheid talked about how energized the Raiders were for it.
“(The Warriors) were talking about roping some bear and that we were done, so just a little note, we’re not done. They’re coming back to P.A. and we’ll be there tomorrow night.”
Game 6 in the quarterfinal series now goes back to Prince Albert for a Sunday evening matchup at 6 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
Raiders goalie Ian Scott stopped 31 of 32 Warriors’ shots. Moose Jaw forward Justin Almeida had the lone goal for the Warriors, scored at 14:25 in the second period.
Willms stopped 17 of 22 Raiders’ shots, while Evanoff stopped four of four.