Raiders start BC trip with 4-1 win over Prince George

Photo by Nathan Reiter. Raider goaltender Max Hildebrand in the crease during WHL action against the Red Deer Rebels on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023

The Prince Albert Raiders kicked off a five game BC division road trip on the right foot with a 4-1 win at the CN Centre over the Prince George Cougars on Saturday night.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says it took a while for the Raiders to get engaged, but they improved as the first period went on.

“I really didn’t like our first ten minutes. I thought we were a bit slow out of the gate. The timing wasn’t there, we weren’t as engaged as I’d like us to be. I thought as the period went on we got better and better.”

The first period saw the Raiders outshoot the Cougars 13-6, but it would be Prince George who opened the scoring just 1:01 into first period.

Ondrej Becher would fire his 7th of the season past Raider netminder Max Hildebrand to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead. Jaxsen Wiebe and Chase Wheatcroft would be credited with assists on the game’s opening goal.

The Raiders would find the equalizer on the power play at the 18:24 mark. After a scramble in front of the Cougar net, Hayden Pakkala would sneak a backhand shot past Prince George netminder Ty Young to tie the game with his 6th goal of the season. Niall Crocker and Keaton Sorenson would pick up the assists.

Prince George would press for the go-ahead goal early in the second period, but Max Hildebrand would stand tall in net for Prince Albert, making 12 saves in the middle frame.

Truitt says Hildebrand gave the Raiders a good chance to win with his performance. 

“[He was] real solid. There was a bit of chaos in front of him here tonight. They got lots of traffic and some pucks that were laying around that created a bit of a crowd. Our defenceman did a good job at getting to pucks and not allowing them to get those second opportunities. I thought Max played real well. He did some little things well for our back end, stopping pucks behind the net and making simple plays. He stood tall for us here tonight.”

The Raiders would take their first lead of the contest at the 15:16 mark of the second period as Carter Anderson would take a wrist shot while crossing the Cougar blue line and it would beat Prince George netminder Ty Young. Pakkala would pick up the assists.

The Raider captain would double the lead for Prince Albert just over two minutes later. Evan Herman would come in off the left wing and fire a wrist shot past Young for his 8th goal of the season coming at the 17:31 mark of the second to give the Raiders a 3-1 advantage after 40 minutes.

Truitt says the two goals by the Raiders in the second period did a good job at taking the crowd out of the game.

“They had a good crowd here tonight. They are a very passionate group up here. They can certainly help the team just like our fans at the Art Hauser. We were able to quiet it a little bit and we didn’t give them a ton of momentum. We weathered the storm whenever they came at us and we took them [out of it] with the two goals for sure.”

After Jaxen Wiebe would be called for goaltender interference just 2:59 in the third period, the Raider power play would take advantage of the opportunity.

On the man advantage, Evan Herman would strike with his 9th goal of the season and second of the night to extend the Raider lead to 4-1. Seth Tansem and Sloan Stanick were credited with assists.

The Raiders return to action on Tuesday night when they travel to Vancouver Island to take on the Victoria Royals. Puck drops at 9 p.m. Saskatchewan time.

News and Notes

With the assist on Herman’s goal in the third period, Sloan Stanick has recorded 100 points in his WHL career.

Hayden Pakkala celebrated his 19th birthday on Saturday night. He recorded one goal, one assist and finished with a +1 rating. He was also named the game’s second star.

Harrison Lodewyk appeared in his 100th career WHL game on Saturday night in Prince George