The Prince Albert Raiders broke open a tight game with four unanswered goals on route to a 5-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.
The Raiders overcame a one-goal deficit with two goals in the second and two more in the third to claim their fourth straight win. Coach Jeff Truitt said the team turned the puck over a lot in the first period, but were much more disciplined and consistent in the second and third.
“I thought it (turnovers) killed our momentum in the first period, but as the game went on I thought we got better, particularly in third period when we were trying to button things down a little bit,” Truitt said. “The offence clicked for us and gave us some breathing room. It was nice to see we improved as the game went on.”
The win improves Prince Albert’s record to 9-12-2-0 on the season. Truitt said the Raiders are starting to come together as a team, and that’s paid dividends over the past four games.
“The chemistry that’s starting here is really good,” he said. “We’re learning lessons along the way about what we can get away with and what we can’t. Discipline early in the season was a bit of a concern, but that seems to be a little bit better now. Our finish on our plays is a little bit better. Everything has got a long way to go, but I’m seeing improvement here with not only lines, but individuals.”
The line of Keaton Sorensen, Evan Herman, and Sloan Stanick wreaked havoc in the Calgary end of the ice all game. Sorensen led the way with two goals and an assist, while Herman chipped in with two assists and the 50th goal of his WHL career.
Stanick had four assists on the night, including the primary assist on defenceman Landon Kosior’s game winner.
“You expect that out of your top-end guys,” Truitt said. “That line has really caught fire here over the last little while. The chemistry’s there. They’re working hard together, they’re getting their opportunities and they’re making the best of them. That’s what you expect from your older guys.”
Trey Patterson and Zac Funk scored for the Hitmen, who were playing their first game back home following a five-game road trip through the WHL’s U.S. Division. Tikhon Chaika made 32 stops to earn the win for Prince Albert, while Brayden Peters made 23 saves for Calgary.
Defenceman Owen Boucher opened the scoring 6:43 into the first period. Boucher snuck in undetected from the left point and fired a cross-ice pass from Stannick over Peters’ outstretched arm to make it 1-0.
Patterson tied it at one near the midway point of the first with a backhand that beat Chaika over the shoulder. Calgary then took the lead in the first minute of the second when Funk deposited a cross-crease pass from Tyson Galloway to make it 2-1.
The Raiders tied it at 10:49 on Sorensen’s first of the night, then took the lead while playing four-on-four. Sloan Stanick carried the puck into the Calgary zone and found Koiser all alone at the side of the net to make it 3-2. It was the second time a Prince Albert defenceman scored after finding himself uncovered in front of the Calgary net.
Sorensen added an insurance marker on the powerplay at 5:19. Herman added more insurance roughly four-and-a-half minutes later thanks to a nice saucer pass from Stanick.
The Raiders will put their four-game winning streak to its toughest test yet on Saturday when they face the second place Red Deer Rebels. The Rebels sport a 16-4-0-3 record, but are coming off three straight losses, the most recent being a 3-2 shootout defeat to Medicine Hat on Friday. Puck drop is 8 p.m. CST.