The Prince Albert Raiders completed a four point weekend with a 5-3 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Art Hauser Centre Saturday night.
Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says it was a victory Prince Albert had to work towards.
“I didn’t like our first period at all, I thought there was an emotional letdown and we were slow. We weren’t at the top of our game, it was a grind it out type of game from there on in. It definitely wasn’t pretty Lots of turnovers, missed plays and coverages. Sometimes that does happen with a group that comes off an emotional win like that, right now we can’t have the ups and downs. It’s good to get the two points, there’s got to be more consistency in our game.”
The Moose Jaw Warriors would have a prime opportunity to open the scoring early.
A penalty shot would be awarded to Seattle Kraken prospect Jagger Firkus just 2:30 into the contest Firkus would put a nifty deke on Raider netminder Tikhon Chaika, but the 19-year-old Belarusian would make the save with the right pad to keep the game scoreless.
But it would be the Prince Albert Raiders who would open the scoring on Saturday night. Niall Crocker would strike for the 10th time this season at the 14:19 mark of the first period. Crocker would receive a clean pass in front of the net from Carter Anderson and he would make no mistake to give the Raiders an early 1-0 lead.
Moose Jaw would respond just under four minutes later as Brayden Yager would rip home his 24th goal of the season glove side past Chaika to even the score at 1-1 at the 16:12 mark of the opening frame.. Eric Alarie and Ben Riche assisted on the play.
Prince Albert outshot the visiting Warriors 8-5 after twenty minutes of play.
It wouldn’t take long for the Raiders to take the lead in the second period.
Just 1:41 into the period, Aidan Oiring would snipe a wrist shot blocker side past Warrior netminder Jackson Unger to give the Prince Albert a 2-1 lead. Ryder Ritchie would pick up the lone assist on the play.
Truitt says Oiring has shown a lot of confidence with his play with the Raiders since being acquired at the trade deadline for Carson Latimer.
“I think his confidence in the puck and his play making has really come out. He is not as tentative as he once was. I think his confidence is high because they are having positive shifts. They are in the zone and they are creating things. He is creating things for himself and his teammates. His overall awareness and making little plays to create time and space for him and his teammates will go a long way. I think you are seeing that development right in front of your eyes.”
Oiring says he has found chemistry with his linemates with more ice time with the Raiders.
“It’s amazing developing a little bit more with all the ice time. With the players, I feel like we have more chemistry on this line with Stanick and Ritchie. We know where we are going and where to pass the puck to get it into the net.”
After a high sticking penalty against Moose Jaw’s Logan Dowhaniuk, the Raider power play would take advantage.
Evan Herman would win a faceoff in the offensive zone and Landon Kosior would make a feed to Erik Johnston who would lean into a slap shot and blast it glove side past Unger for his 3rd goal of the campaign to double the Raider lead at 3-1 at the 10:44 mark of the second period.
Johnston, celebrating his 19th birthday Saturday, says it was a good feeling to find the back of the net.
“We saw there was 10 seconds left [in the power play] and we wanted to get a quick shot off. Kosior gave me a good pass and luckily it went in and it was nice”
Moose Jaw would have an opportunity to draw within a goal on the power play after Justice Christensen was called for holding.
Denton Mateychuk would fire a point shot that would beat Chaika, but not the red iron of the crossbar behind him to keep the two goal Raider lead intact at 3-1 after forty minutes of play.
The Raiders would lead the shots 15-12 after forty minutes.
The Warriors would trim the Raider lead to just one with 8:15 remaining in the third period. Josh Hoekstra would rip his 7th goal of the season past Chaika. Denton Mateychuk would pick up the lone assist on the play.
Prince Albert would answer with an insurance tally coming courtesy of overage rearguard Landon Kosior. After a flurry of activity in front of the Moose Jaw net, Kosior would fire a backhand shot past Unger for his 16th goal of the season to double the Raider lead at 4-2. Sloan Stanick and Ryder Ritchie assisted on the play.
Moose Jaw would pull the goaltender, but as Unger started to skate towards the visitors bench, the Warriors would turnover the puck at the Raider blueline. Niall Crocker would gain possession of the puck and fire it into the empty cage for his second goal of the night to seal a 5-2 victory for the Prince Albert Raiders.
Tikhon Chaika made 21 saves for the Raiders in the victory. Jackson Unger stopped 18 shots in the loss.
The Raiders return to action with a Monday afternoon matinee in Brandon against the Wheat Kings. Puck drops at 2:30 p.m.