Raiders triumph over Broncos in return home

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Prince Albert Raiders forward Sloan Stanick fires a shot on goal during WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre on Feb. 11, 2023.

The Prince Albert Raiders secured two points in the standings in their first game at the Art Hauser Centre in 21 days with a 4-1 win over the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he saw a major turnaround after a 4-0 loss to the Broncos on Friday night.

“I think you talk to the leadership group, they had a big influence on the game here tonight. A lot of things we didn’t change. They didn’t like the way last night turned out with the way that we played. Collectively, they got their bootstraps pulled up and went to battle here tonight.”

An early Raider turnover would prove to be costly as a Prince Albert pass would go straight onto the tape of Caleb Wyrostok who would fire a wrist shot past the blocker of Max Hildebrand for his 16th goal of the season to open the scoring just 0:34 into the hockey game.

It would take a barrage for the Raiders to beat Reid Dyck to tie the game at the 10:13 mark of the opening frame. After a pair of shots were stopped by Dyck, Harrison Lodewyk would get a loose puck on a rebound past the Bronco netminder for his 6th goal of the season. Niall Crocker and Keaton Sorenson would receive credit for assists on the play.

With just 1:51 remaining in the first period, Hayden Pakkala would be ejected for the game after a hit on Swift Current’s Sam McGinley resulted in a five minute major and a game misconduct.

Shots favored the visiting Broncos 9-4 after one period of play.

The Raiders were able to successfully kill the five minute major not allowing a single goal to Swift Current/

Truitt says the successful kill provided a big shift in momentum for Prince Albert.

“There’s no doubt. That was a big thing. We were lucky because we got to split it between the first and second period. That’s a long time and you are asking guys to do that job. We were very efficient and we were in lanes when we needed to. Hildebrand came up with some big saves which is always a difference on the penalty kill. To come with nothing out of that was big.”

The Raiders would take advantage of the momentum gained by the penalty kill. Ryder Ritchie would give Prince Albert the lead at the 4:04 mark of the second period. The 16-year-old would fire a wrist shot that would sneak through the pads of Dyck for his 14th goal of the season. Easton Kovacs and Seth Tansem picked up assists on the play.

Ritchie currently sits 7th in WHL rookie scoring with 32 points on the season.

Brady Birnie would be sent to the penalty box with a tripping minor after taking down Grady Martin and the Prince Albert power play wouldn’t take long to capitalize.

Just 15 seconds into the man advantage, a tic tac toe passing play saw the puck on the stick of Niall Crocker in front of the Swift Current net and he would make no mistake for his 9th of the campaign at the 8:11 mark of the second period. Landon Kosior and Ryder Ritchie assisted on the play.

The Raiders would catch a break as Max Hildebrand would appear to ice the puck, but it would pop loose and Clark Caswell would put the loose puck into the back of the net. The play was whistled dead so it was not a goal. Caswell was initially penalized for slashing before the penalty was overturned.

Hildebrand would make his best stop of the night going right to left to make a clean glove save on Josh Davies with 4:32 remaining in the second period to keep the Raider intact at 3-1.

The Raiders would add another in the final minute of the second period. With only 56 seconds to go, Keaton Sorenson received a pass in front of the net and put his shot blocker side past Dyck for his 18th goal of the season. Brayden Dube and Gabe Ludwig picked up assists on the play.

Swift Current outshot the Raiders 13-11 in the second period, a total of 22-15 after two periods of play.

Neither team would find the back of the net in the third period.

Max Hildebrand would stand tall in net for Prince Albert making 33 saves and earning first star honors.

Reid Dyck made 17 saves for Swift Current.

Truitt says the Raiders are finding themselves in similar ground to where they were at this point last season.

“You never want to be [an easy out]. We want our players to be excited and dedicated and to learn the right way. Those guys have learned the right way. No matter who we play, we want to play to the best of our capabilities. This is very eerie of a feeling from last year when we were 9, 10 points out of the playoffs with about this many games left. We got in on the last day. There’s no quit in there and that’s what we want to stride for.”

The Raiders return to action on Friday, Feb. 17 when they welcome Prince Albert product Tanner Howe and the Regina Pats to the Art Hauser Centre.