Raiders snap eight-game losing streak

Daily Herald File Photo Prince Albert Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt, seen here racing alongside Winnipeg Ice blueliner Nolan Orzeck, had a goal and an assist during Sunday's 5-3 win in Manitoba's capital.

The Prince Albert Raiders are back in the win column for the first time since Dec. 13, 2019.

An eight-game losing skid came to an end Sunday evening at the Wayne Fleming Arena as the defending WHL champions picked up a 5-3 triumph over the East Division leading Winnipeg Ice.

“As bad as it is to lose that many games in a row, it’s not the worse thing in the world, as it shows the guys just how precious and valuable winning is,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “Sometimes you can take that for granted when you are winning a lot.

“I think what I’m what most proud of though is how the guys stayed the course and kept plugging away. We pretty much outshot and outplayed almost every team during this streak, but we kept finding a way to lose. We got the win and I think everyone will be skating a little lighter out there the next time out.”

Special teams played a key role in Sunday’s triumph as the Raiders scored three goals on the man advantage and also got a shorthanded marker from Reece Vitelli in the second frame.

“The puck went in the net,” Habscheid joked. “Sometimes there’s a force field there and the pucks don’t go in, but today they went in.”

Vitelli had a pair of markers to snap an 18-game goalless streak for the 21-14-4-1 Raiders, who also got two assists from Spencer Moe.

“Reece is a good two-way player and we were in his hometown tonight so I was happy to see him get some goals,” Habscheid said.

“I also thought (Matthew) Culling did a good job for us as well. He logged some valuable minutes and he plays the right way.”

Brayden Watts, Ozzy Wiesblatt and Aliaksei Protas had a goal and an assist in the triumph, while Keegan Karki made 25 saves in his first start for the club.

Owen Pederson scored twice for the 24-14-1-0 Ice, who saw a five-game win streak come to an end on Sunday but still have a two-point advantage and a game in hand on the Raiders for first place in the East Division.

Connor McClennon dished out a pair of helpers in the loss and Cole Muir also lit the lamp.

Jesse Makaj turned aside 29 shots for the hosts in his first start since Dec. 4, 2019.

The Raiders will return to the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday as they’ll take on the Red Deer Rebels at 7 p.m.

They will then welcome the Prince George Cougars to town on Friday before hosting the Edmonton Oil Kings a night later.

Post-Game Notes

Prince Albert’s last victory came against the Ice as they earned a 3-1 triumph at the Art Hauser Centre on Dec. 13.

The Raiders also snapped a five-game losing streak on the road as their last win away from home came on Dec. 7 in a 5-1 affair against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Connor McClennon and Owen Pederson continued their impressive performances for the Ice as they extended their point streaks to 11 and nine games each.

However, forward Peyton Krebs and rookie defender Carson Lambos weren’t as fortunate as they were held without a point and saw their streaks end at six and five games respectively.

Carter Serhyenko, Michael Horon and Tyson Laventure did not dress for the Raiders, while the Ice scratched Gage Alexander, Karter Prosofsky, Nino Kinder, Michael Milne, Brad Ginnell, Michal Teply and Matthew Savoie.

Around the WHL

A minor transaction took place on Sunday afternoon as the Tri-City Americans dealt 17-year-old forward Kaden Kohle and a seventh round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft to the Vancouver Giants for 17-year-old forward John Little and a sixth round pick in the 2020 draft.

Kohle, who is from Cudworth, Sask., had two assists in 84 games for the Americans over the last two seasons after they chose him with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Little, who calls Parksville, B.C. home, has a goal in 31 games this season after posting 26 points last year with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

The 2020 WHL Trade Deadline is Friday at 4 p.m.

Sunday’s Scores

  • Calgary 7 Moose Jaw 2 (Luke Prokop – Three Assists)
  • Edmonton 4 Saskatoon 3 (Riley Sawchuk – Two Assists)
  • Brandon 5 Regina 0 (Ridly Greig – Three Assists – Jiri Patera – 31 Saves – Three Shutout This Season and Fourth Career)
  • Seattle 4 Swift Current 2 (Kelti Jeri-Leon – Two Goals)
  • Kelowna 7 Tri-City 3 (Pavel Novak – Two Goals and Two Assists)

World Juniors Recap

Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs) was the hero for Canada as he scored with 3:58 to go in the third period to give his country a 4-3 win over Russia in the gold medal game of the 2020 World Juniors in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

It was a stunning rally for the Canadians as they scored three unanswered goals in the final 11 minutes to capture their 18th title and their first since 2018.

Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes) led the way on offence with three assists, while Connor McMichael (London Knights) had a goal and an assist each.

Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic) dished out a pair of helpers on his way to being named the most valuable player of the tournament.

Barrett Hayton (Arizona Coyotes) and Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) also scored for Canada, who received a 35-save showing from the tournament’s top goaltender Joel Hofer (Portland Winterhawks).

Grigori Denisenko (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl) had a goal and an assist each for Russia, who have lost four gold medal games since their last tournament triumph in 2011.

Russia also got goals from Maxim Sorkin (CSKA Moscow) and Nikita Alexandrov (Charlottetown Islanders) to go along with a 30-save performance from Amir Miftakhov (AK Bars Kazan).

Sweden clinched the final spot on the podium as they edged Finland 3-2 in the bronze medal game earlier in the day.

Samuel Fagemo (Frolunda), who led the tournament in scoring with 13 points, had a goal and an assist in the contest.

Rasmus Sandin (Toronto Marlies) also scored and was named as the event’s top blueliner.

Germany solidified their spot in next year’s tournament in Edmonton and Red Deer on Sunday as they defeated Kazakhstan 6-0 in the third and final contest in a best-of-three relegation series.

Kazakhstan will drop down to the Division I field and will be replaced by Austria.

Pre-Game Notes

The Raiders lost the first meeting of the season between the Rebels in a 3-2 encounter at home on Nov. 9, but they bounced back in style on Nov. 20 with an impressive 7-1 showing in Red Deer.

The 13-20-1-3 Rebels, who have lost their last two games, are in fifth place in the Central Division and are nine points back of the Saskatoon Blades for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Rookie blueliner Kyle Masters remains sidelined for the squad due to a lower body injury that he suffered at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in November.

Tuesday’s Schedule

  • Medicine Hat vs. Brandon – 7 p.m.
  • Red Deer vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Spokane vs. Portland – 9 p.m.