Raiders win fight-fest in Swift Current

The Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos came ready to battle Friday — literally.

The division rivals faced off in Swift Current for the first time since the Broncos ended the Raiders’ win streak on December 4.

That game was a tight-checking, low-scoring goalie battle that required a shootout to find a winner.

Friday’s game was much different.

The two sides reacquainted themselves early. Just eight minutes in, Jakob Brook and Quinton Waitzner dropped the gloves and went toe-to-toe.

It seemed to spark the Raiders. Seconds later, Carson Miller found the rebound off of a Max Martin shot and put the puck to the back of the net. Cole Fonstad earned the secondary assist on the play.

Just past the midway mark of the first, the fisticuffs continued.

Swift Current’s Matthew Stanley blew up Parker Kelly coming across the middle. The two dropped the gloves, but Stanley got the extra two for charging.

On the ensuing powerplay, the Raiders took advantage. Fonstad found Noah Gregor behind the Broncos D, and he sniped the puck past Broncos goalie Joel Hofer to put the Raiders up 2-0.

The lead grew to 3-0 five minutes into the second. Ozzy Wiesblatt took a pass from Miller and weaved his way through the offence before dishing the puck back to Eric Pearce. Pearce snapped it home for his fourth of the season.

Midway through the frame, Kelly got his revenge. He caught Garrett Sambrook with his head down in the corner and unloaded with a huge hit, drawing a crowd. Sambrook left the game and Kelly was given a minor penalty for a check to the head.

On the powerplay, Joona Kiviniemi snapped the puck low past the glove of Raiders starter Donovan Buskey to cut the lead to 3-1.

The rough stuff continued. A few minutes later, Stanley tried to get his team back into the game with his fists, going up against Kody McDonald. After Pearce took a checking from behind penalty, the Raiders were sent to the PK.

But it was Prince Albert who would strike. Sean Montgomery found Kelly on the rush Kelly’s shot bounced back to Montgomery, who tapped in the rebound for his 14th on the year.

As the period ended, Jeremy Masella and Tanner Nagel got into it. The two big men threw punches for the game’s fourth fight, with Masella earning an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. After 40 minutes, the score remained 4-1.

The Raiders got into more penalty trouble in the third.

A Hayes hit from behind sent Prince Albert back to the kill. But again, it was the Raiders who would score. Spencer Moe took a pass from Martin and danced past two defenders before picking the corner over Hofer to extend the lead to 5-1.

But the Broncos wouldn’t go down easily.

Kaiden Guhle gave the puck away in his own zone. It found its way to Alec Zawatsky, who scored on a backhanded try to cut the lead to three. Austin Herron and Prince Albert-born Ethan Regnier earned helpers on the play.

After McDonald took a two-minute minor for checking from behind (and got in the game’s fifth fight), the Broncos went back to the powerplay. This time, it paid off. Regnier found Connor Horning, who snapped it past Buskey to cut the lead to two.

A late slashing penalty from Gregor gave the Broncos another chance with an empty net, but after the penalty expired, Kelly found Montgomery, who found the empty net.

Matthew Culling for Swift Current scored a late goal for his side with 40 seconds to go, but that would be it.

Final score: 6-4.

Prince Albert outshot Swift Current 31-26. Both teams combined for 100 penalty minutes. Nagel led the way for Swift with 25 minutes of penalties, while McDonald earned 27. Both players were given game misconducts late in the third for fighting multiple times in one game.

Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid was happy to see the emotion but stressed that his side took too many bad penalties.

“Our guys play with emotion,” he said. “I’m not going to take that out of them. They just have to be a little bit smarter with taking penalties. We play with emotion and it’s important to have that.

Last time the Raiders were in Swift Current, they badly outshot their opponents, but were beaten by Hofer. Friday, the shot margin was much tighter.

“This time the pucks went in,” Habscheid said. “That’s junior hockey.”

With the win, Prince Albert becomes the first team in the CHL to reach the 30-win mark. Friday’s pair of shorthanded goals gives Prince Albert 17 for the year. They’ve allowed 16 against while down a man.

The two sides will meet up again Saturday night in Prince Albert for the teddy bear toss game. Habscheid doesn’t necessarily expect the bad blood to spill over into Saturday.

“We just want to get the win,” he said.

“Play to win and every game has a different complexion.”

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre. The game is Prince Albert’s last before the winter break. Following Saturday’s game, the Raiders next matchup is a home-and-home series against Saskatoon on December 27 and 28.

Scott, Leason named to Team Canada roster

It was a big day for Ian Scott Friday as he was signed to an entry-level contract by the Toronto Maple Leafs and then earned a spot on Team Canada’s World Junior Championships roster.

He’ll share goalie duties at the tournament with Michael DiPietro of the Ottawa 67s.

Scott was picked by the Leafs in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He made his professional debut last year in an April regular season game, backstopping the Marlies, Toronto’s AHL affiliate, to a 4-3 victory.

Scott will be joined on Team Canada by Brett Leason.

The Raiders forward was named to the squad Friday, but will still have to wait to learn his final fate.

With three of their top players battling injuries, the Canadian team named two extra forwards to their squad. That means two more players will have to be cut before the tournament begins.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, though, one of those forwards, Alex Formenton, will not be ready to go due to a knee injury suffered in selection camp this week. Jaret Anderson-Dolan (wrist) and Gabriel Vilardi (back) are the other forwards battling injury.

Post-Game Notes

In addition to Scott and Leason, the Raiders were also without blueliners Lane Kirk, Brayden Pachal and Sergei Sapego, along with forward Aliaksei Protas.

Pachal will serve the second in a two-game suspension tomorrow night after receiving supplemental discipline following Wednesday against the Edmonton Oil Kings.

The Broncos did not dress forward Carter Chorney and Eric Houk Friday, while Sambrook did not return to the game after being hit by Kelly.

Friday’s Scores

  • Regina 2 Moose Jaw 1 (Dean McNabb – 26 Saves)
  • Saskatoon 3 Brandon 2 (Nolan Maier – 33 Saves)
  • Calgary 5 Kelowna 1 (Egor Zamula – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Kootenay 5 Kamloops 3 (Peyton Krebs – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Medicine Hat 4 Red Deer 1 (Mads Sogaard – 49 Saves – Josh Williams – Two Goals and Two Assists)
  • Spokane 5 Seattle 3 (Jake McGrew – Three Goals and One Assist – Second Career Hat Trick)
  • Everett 4 Vancouver 1 (Bryce Kindopp – Two Goals)
  • Victoria 5 Prince George 1 (Tarun Fizer – One Goal and One Assist)

Around the WHL & CHL

Everett overage forward Sean Richards is currently serving an eight-game suspension, the longest in the WHL in two years, as a result of a boarding major penalty and game misconduct he received last Saturday for a hit on Seattle’s Loeden Schaufler.

Richards, who has been suspended on three other occasions by the league, won’t be eligible to return to action until Jan. 6 against the Kamloops Blazers.

A major trade took place in the Ontario Hockey League Friday as the Guelph Storm traded San Jose Sharks defensive prospect Ryan Merkley to the Peterborough Petes for forward Pavel Gogolev, a second round pick in 2019, the Windsor Spitfires’ third round pick in 2021 and three conditional draft picks (a second in 2023, a third in 2024 and a fourth in 2022).

The 18-year-old Merkley, who was the first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Draft and was picked 21st overall by the Sharks in this year’s NHL Draft, leads all blueliners in the league in points with 39 but has been maligned at times for his play in his own end.

Gogolev, an 18-year-old from Russia, has 19 points in 29 games this season and is coming off of a 30 goal campaign last year.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Calgary vs. Edmonton – 5 p.m.
  • Regina vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Swift Current vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Saskatoon vs. Brandon – 7:30 p.m.
  • Kamloops vs. Lethbridge – 8 p.m.
  • Kelowna vs. Medicine Hat – 8:30 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Tri-City – 9 p.m.
  • Vancouver vs. Victoria – 9 p.m.
  • Seattle vs. Everett – 9 p.m.