Raiders top division rival Wheat Kings in heated contest

Photo by Nathan Reiter. Prince Albert Raiders forward Sloan Stanick engages in a fight with Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brett Hyland during WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023

The Prince Albert Raiders made a major stride towards a playoff spot with a 6-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday night. 

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says the Raiders scored at the right times in the victory.

“I thought after the first period we should’ve been up a lot more, Lodewyk misses an open net and Herman hits a post. We could’ve extended the lead a bit more and sometimes that bites you. They got within one at 3-2. I thought we got some goals that we needed. Those goals helped us, we played a hard game last night and a hard game tonight. We got rewarded with a few more goals here tonight, I think the guys were pleased with the offense here tonight.”

A trio of new Raider acquisitions would combine to open the scoring just 2:47 into the first period. Aiden Oiring, recently acquired from Winnipeg for Carson Latimer, would strike for his first in a Raider uniform. Assists on the goal would be credited to Brayden Dube and Gabe Ludwig, who were both acquired from Seattle for Nolan Allan in November.

Photo by Nathan Reiter. Prince Albert Raiders forward Aiden Oiring celebrates his first Raider goal with teammates at the Art Hauser Centre on Jan. 7, 2023

The Raiders would have another golden opportunity as captain Evan Herman would be sprung on a breakaway and his backhand shot would beat Brandon netminder Nicholas Jones but not the red iron of the cross bar.

Nate Danielson would strike for his 20th goal of the campaign for Brandon to tie the game at 1-1 at the 8:37 mark of the first period.

The first period wouldn’t go without some fireworks as a pair of fights would break out between the East Division rivals. The first would come at the 9:46 mark as Sloan Stanick would drop the gloves with Brandon’s Brett Hyland.

It seemed order was restored after the puck was dropped, but just three seconds later Wheat Kings forward and Prince Albert product Matthew Henry would drop the gloves with Raider rookie Grady Martin.

Entering play on Saturday, Henry led the entire WHL with 84 penalty minutes.

The Raiders would strike to take the lead after the dust settled at the 13:24 mark. Justice Christensen would rip home his first goal in the WHL with a sharp wrist shot from the top of the right circle to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead. Oiring and Herman were credited with assists on the play.

Christensen, a rookie defenceman for the Raiders was all over the ice playing in all situations for Prince Albert. He says he was excited to score his first goal and to contribute with big minutes.

“It was actually really exciting, it was pretty electric. It caught me by surprise and I was pretty excited. It feels really good to get to win after that, I feel like I contributed a lot and it’s good to play big minutes and I am proud of our team here tonight.”

Christensen was listed by the Raiders and is in his rookie season on the Prince Albert blue line. Truitt says Christensen has moved the puck well for Prince Albert this season.

“He brings mobility, he’s strong for a guy who might only be 5’10. He’s a strong kid, he’s in great shape. He’s got a good shot. It was just a matter of getting shots through, he got one tonight and it’s a great accomplishment for him”

Evan Herman would be sprung on a partial breakaway from a sharp lead pass from Eric Johnston, the captain would strike for his 7th of the season at 15:05 to give Prince Albert a 3-1 lead after twenty minutes.

THe Raiders lead the shots 13-8 after twenty minutes.

Brandon would pull within one with a goal on a 5-on-3 power play courtesy of Nolan Ritchie’s 14th goal of the season at the 4:20 mark of the second period. Jake Chiasson and Nate Danielson would pick up assists on the goal.

After Henry was sent off for a tripping minor penalty, the Raider power play would go to work. Sloan Stanick’s 14th of the season restored the two goal Raider lead at 4-2. 

Shots favoured the home side Raiders 18-13 after two periods of play.

Sloan Stanick made the highlight reel with his second goal of the contest coming at the , splitting two Wheat Kings defenders and making a sharp angle shot while falling to the ice to beat Jones to extend the Prince Albert lead to 5-2. Niall Crocker would pick up the lone assist on the goal.

The Raiders weren’t done scoring yet, Crocker would add an insurance marker of his own to make it 6-2 Raiders with just over two minutes remaining in the contest. Hayden Pakkala would be credited with the lone assist on the goal.

Prince Albert posted 24 penalty minutes as a team throughout the game Saturday.

Truitt says the Raiders need to be more disciplined welcoming the top two teams in the Western Conference to the Art Hauser Centre next week.

“You can’t be undisciplined with those teams. With Portland and Seattle, with the firepower they got, they can easily make the game run away on their power play. It forces you to play your best game and that’s what we got to do, keep raising our level and doing the best that we can. That’s the reason why you play the games and we look forward to those challenges”

The Raiders return to action on Tuesday night when they welcome Prince Albert product Gabe Klassen and the Portland Winterhawks to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7pm.