Raiders take season series from Oil Kings

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders forward Matthew Culling and blueliner Jeremy Masella team up to take the puck away from Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings in January.

Overtime wasn’t needed in the third meeting in two weeks between the Prince Albert Raiders and the Edmonton Oil Kings.

However, like their other encounters, Friday’s contest at the Art Hauser Centre went down to the wire.

Despite a late push by the visitors, the Raiders were able to hang on for a 3-2 victory and take three out of their four meetings with the Eastern Conference leaders this season.

“We had a bit of a reset this week and I like the way that we responded,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “Our energy was good and our attention to detail was good.

“I liked how everyone played really. They came with a commitment to work and they were playing like a team.”

Washington Capitals prospect Aliaksei Protas led the way for the Raiders with a pair of assists, but his best work came on what ended up being the game-winning goal.

After losing his stick earlier in the shift, Protas booted the puck up the ice with his skate and found Brayden Watts, who would drive the net and bat a rebound by Beck Warm with 9:34 to go.

“I play soccer every summer with my buddies so I think that experience helped me out there,” Protas smiled.

“I kind of had no choice other than that play in that situation. I wanted to make a quick play and I didn’t want to kick the puck to nowhere, but I saw Brayden there and I kicked it towards him.”

Matthew Culling and Landon Kosior also scored for the 24-15-4-3 Raiders, who received a 30-save performance from Max Paddock.

“Landon probably could have had five goals tonight with the opportunities that he had,” Habscheid said.

“If you look back at that second period, we might have had a bigger margin of victory with the scoring chances that we had, but their goalie made some big saves.”

The 31-8-6-3 Oil Kings, who saw their two-game win streak come to an end Friday, lost the services of two of their forwards during the game as Scott Atkinson and Brendan Kuny did not return after suffering apparent injuries in the first and second period respectively.

“It was a bit of a rough start for us, especially with quite a few guys out and losing a key player in our captain (Atkinson) early on,” Oil Kings forward Riley Sawchuk said. “With all that said, I thought we did a pretty good job in working through those challenges.”

Dylan Guenther and Josh Williams both scored for the Oil Kings, who are eight points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Central Division standings, while Warm turned aside 32 shots.

The Raiders, who moved a point ahead of the idle Winnipeg Ice for first place in the East Division, will continue their four-game homestand at 7 p.m. Saturday as they’ll host the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Post-Game Notes

Raiders captain Zack Hayes was forced to leave the ice early in the first period after taking a puck off of the face from a shot by Sawchuk, but he returned a few minutes later and finished out the game with a full cage.

“I kept looking at my sheet and I thought he was an affiliated player out there with the cage,” Habscheid joked. “He looked pretty good for a 15-year-old.”

“They (Edmonton) are probably not sorry that they don’t have to play him again as he’s been really physical in all three games against them.”

This marks the fourth straight season that the Raiders have won three out of four regular season contests over the Oil Kings.

Edmonton last won the season series over Prince Albert in the 2011-12 campaign, when they won all four contests.

Ozzy Wiesblatt was held without a point on Friday, which brought an end to his six-game point streak.

Dylan Guenther’s third period marker was his 18th of the season, which moved him back into a tie with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Cole Sillinger for the most goals by a rookie in the WHL this year.

Daniil Stepanov was the lone scratch for the Raiders on Friday, while the Oil Kings did not dress Jacson Alexander, Wyatt McLeod, Jesse Seppala, Carson Latimer and Tyler Horstmann.

Friday’s Scores

  • Brandon 6 Victoria 3 (Luke Burzan – Two Goals)
  • Kelowna 3 Seattle 2 (Matthew Wedman Overtime Winner – Pavel Novak – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Portland 8 Tri-City 2 (Seth Jarvis – Two Goals and Three Assists)
  • Kamloops 3 Prince George 0 (Josh Pillar – Two Goals – Dylan Garand – 27 Saves – Fourth Shutout This Season and Fifth Career)
  • Lethbridge 7 Regina 2 (Calen Addison – Five Assists)
  • Saskatoon 6 Medicine Hat 5 (Kyle Crnkovic – One Goal and Four Assists – Tristen Robins – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Moose Jaw 5 Swift Current 2 (Boston Bilous – 40 Saves)

Thursday’s Scores

  • Everett 2 Vancouver 1 (Gage Goncalves – Two Goals)

Wednesday’s Scores

  • Lethbridge 7 Moose Jaw 1 (Dylan Cozens – Three Goals and One Assist – First Hat Trick This Season and Fourth Career)
  • Spokane 3 Everett 2 (Eli Zummack Overtime Winner – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Edmonton 5 Swift Current 3 (Isaiah DiLaura – 57 Saves)

Sunday’s Scores

  • Edmonton 4 Medicine Hat 2 (Riley Sawchuk – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick)
  • Portland 3 Kelowna 2 (Seth Jarvis – Two Assists)
  • Everett 2 Seattle 0 (Dustin Wolf – 29 Saves – Seventh Shutout This Season and 18th Career)
  • Kamloops 4 Vancouver 0 (Connor Zary – One Goal and Two Assists – Dylan Garand – 21 Saves – Third Shutout This Season and Fourth Career)
  • Calgary 3 Winnipeg 2 (Carson Focht – One Goal and One Assist)

Pre-Game Notes

The Raiders have lost both of their meetings this season with the Tigers, as they dropped a 4-2 affair in Medicine Hat on Nov. 23 and fell in an 8-4 contest at the Art Hauser Centre on Dec. 11.

Following a 6-5 setback to the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night at the SaskTel Centre, the 29-14-1-1 Tigers are on a two-game losing streak and are three points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes for second place in the Central Division.

Overager James Hamblin, who is second in WHL scoring with 71 points, enters the contest with a 16-game point streak that is the second longest in the league this season.

Lukas Svejkovsky has also played well as of late as he’s recorded a point in his last six games.

Regina’s Cole Sillinger has 46 points thus far in his rookie campaign, which is the most by any 2003-born player in the entire Canadian Hockey League.

Tigers forward Elijah Brown is not expected to play Saturday as he’s out for two to three weeks with a lower body injury that he sustained on a hit from Brandon Wheat Kings blueliner Dom Schmiemann on Jan. 7.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Swift Current vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Medicine Hat vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Edmonton vs. Saskatoon – 7 p.m.
  • Lethbridge vs. Brandon – 7:30 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Winnipeg – 7:30 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Red Deer – 8 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Seattle – 8 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
  • Kelowna vs. Vancouver – 9 p.m.
  • Spokane vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.