Moe, Nachbaur and Paddock wrap up WHL careers
The strangest season in Prince Albert Raiders history concluded on Wednesday night with one of the most bizarre contests the team has ever taken part in.
With the team holding a 5-3 lead over the Swift Current Broncos at the 8:01 mark of the third period, Raiders netminder Max Paddock was given a snow shower by Broncos forward Josh Davies and proceeded to pummel him in the face as both players were down in the crease during a post-whistle scrum.
As a result of the play, Davies was given a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, but Paddock was given a five-minute match penalty and a game misconduct for what the officials deemed as an attempt to injure.
The Broncos scored twice in the second half of the final frame, with Cole Nagy tying things up with 1:03 to go, but the Raiders would prevail in overtime as Ozzy Wiesblatt scored a highlight reel goal to give his team a 6-5 triumph in the final game of the Western Hockey League’s East Division hub at the Brandt Centre.
“It just goes to show the culture that’s in our dressing room and our three overagers (Paddock, Spencer Moe and Justin Nachbaur) are a big part of that,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “It’s about winning and the Raiders play to win no matter what the circumstance is.
“We had a lot of injuries early on and our Euros (Aliaksei Protas, Ilya Usau and Uladzislau Shyla) weren’t here, but it didn’t matter. These guys wanted to win every game and that’s awesome. I loved how they conducted themselves throughout the bubble. They were always first class and treated people with respect. They are all a bunch of winners.”
While his teammates were battling it out with the Broncos, Paddock watched the action from the Raiders tunnel after being ejected in his last WHL contest.
“Those are my brothers out there and I wanted to be there to support them,” said Paddock, who posted a 64-58-14 record with a 3.01 goals against average, a .905 save percentage and nine shutouts in 148 regular season games with the Regina Pats and the Raiders.
“We’ve spent every single hour of the day together for the last two months. They’ve grown to be my brothers in that dressing room and I was ready to be there to cheer them on. I was a little nervous watching it from the tunnel but they battled hard and were able to get the win.”
Nachbaur was able to find the scoresheet in his final WHL contest as he batted a puck into the net early in the third period.
“I scored my first goal against Swift Current and my last one against them,” said Nachbaur, who had 89 points in 216 regular season games for Prince Albert. “It’s funny how the world works like that.”
While Moe missed out on getting a point in his last game for the Raiders, it wasn’t for a lack of effort as his third period breakaway attempt was turned aside by Dyck.
“It’s been an emotional day but I got to win my last game and be with my buddies over the last couple of months,” said Moe, who played in 286 regular season games for the Raiders and recorded 129 points. “What more could you ask for.”
Reece Vitelli had two goals and an assist to lead the way for the 9-11-3-1 Raiders, who snapped a two-game losing streak on Wednesday and finished the season in fourth place in the East Division.
Wiesblatt had a goal and an assist in the triumph to end the year on a seven-game point streak, while Eric Pearce and Remy Aquilon both dished out a pair of helpers.
Terrell Goldsmith and Tyson Laventure also scored in the triumph, which saw Paddock make 21 saves and Carter Serhyenko turn aside six shots in relief.
Michael Farren paced the Broncos on offence with three assists, as they finished at the bottom of the East Division standings with a 6-16-2-0 record.
Mathew Ward, Raphael Pelletier and Carter Stebbings rounded out the scoring and Dyck stopped 32 shots for Swift Current as their two-game winning streak came to an end.
While the Raiders’ overagers will bid farewell to the WHL, the rest of the team will now gear up for the 2021-22 season, though a start date for that campaign is anyone’s guess as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I hope the guys that are coming back understand the winning culture that we have here,” Nachbaur said.
“It was a learning year for our younger guys and I think the biggest thing that they can take away from this season as they going into next year is that we want to win no matter what.”
Wednesday’s overtime triumph also gave the Raiders their third straight season series win over the Broncos, which was the only side that they had the head-to-head advantage over this season.
Paddock’s match penalty was the second infraction of WHL career, as he took a delay of game penalty in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Hitmen on Dec. 3, 2017 as a member of the Pats.
In addition to the three Raiders overagers, the matchup was also the final WHL contest for Broncos 20-year-old players Farren, Owen Williams and Kaleb Bulych.
It also marked the final game behind the bench for Swift Current assistant coach Brandin Cote, as the one-time member of the Raiders coaching staff will be an associate coach for the Saskatchewan Huskies men’s program next year.
Nolan Allan, Kaiden Guhle, Graydon Gotaas, Logan Danis and Max Hildebrand did not dress for the Raiders in the season finale, while the Broncos were without the services of Alex Moar, Daylan Weigel, Braeden Lewis, Josh Filmon, Carter Halamandaris and Brady Birnie.
- Everett 3 Portland 2 (Dustin Wolf – 37 Saves)
- Winnipeg 6 Regina 4 (Michael Milne – Two Goals and One Assist – Zack Smith – Three Goals and One Assist – First Career Hat Trick)
- Kamloops 2 Vancouver 1 (Josh Pillar – Two Goals – Dylan Garand – 38 Saves)
- Kelowna 5 Victoria 1 (David Kope – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Saskatoon 5 Brandon 2 (Chase Wouters – One Goal and One Assist)
- Spokane 5 Tri-City 3 (Adam Beckman – Three Goals and One Assist – Fifth Career Hat Trick)
Everett 5 Seattle 2 (Ronan Seeley – Two Goals and One Assist)
Prince George 5 Kamloops 1 (Keaton Dowhaniuk – One Goal and Three Assists)
Wheat Kings win East Division
While their season ended with a 5-2 loss to the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday afternoon, the Brandon Wheat Kings were the recipients of the Subway Cup as East Division champions in the Regina hub.
The Wheat Kings posted an 18-4-2-0 mark and edged out the Winnipeg Ice by a single point to win their first division banner since the 2015-16 season, when they won the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
“We take a huge amount of pride in that,” Wheat Kings assistant captain and graduating overage forward Lynden McCallum said. “We were able to come together as a group and win some games and we accomplished our goal for this season.”
Wednesday’s game was likely the final one in a Wheat Kings uniform for captain Braden Schneider, as the 19-year-old blueliner from Prince Albert is expected to start his pro career with the New York Rangers next season.
“I was here when he came into Dauphin as a 15-year-old and played in a playoff game for us,” head coach Don MacGillivray said. “He’s a tremendous leader and player.
“Everyone looks up to Braden. He’s a hard-working guy and a great person. I can’t say enough good things about his character. He’s got a bright future ahead of him and the New York Rangers have a great player and person joining their team.”
Schneider, who was the 11th overall pick by the Wheat Kings in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, had 115 points in 207 games for the club.
The Blades also made news following their season finale as graduating captain Chase Wouters found out from general manager Colin Preistner during a post-game press conference that his number 44 jersey will never be worn by another player and will be officially retired at some point in the future.
“As far as I’m concerned, that number 44 belongs to you, not only for what you did on the ice but what you did in the community, for our fans and for everybody,” Preistner said.
“That’s cool to know,” Wouters added through tears after finding out his number would be retired. “It was just an honour to be drafted here when I was 14 and it’s crazy just how fast time flies by.”
Wouters, who was the 19th overall pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, was the first three-year captain in the history of the Blades.
The 21-year-old from Lloydminster suited up in 280 games for the club and recorded 181 points.
East Division Standings
- Brandon Wheat Kings – 38 points (18-4-2-0)
- Winnipeg Ice – 37 points (18-5-1-0)
- Saskatoon Blades – 35 points (16-5-2-1)
- Prince Albert Raiders – 22 points (9-11-3-1)
- Regina Pats – 21 points (9-12-2-1)
- Moose Jaw Warriors – 19 points (8-13-3-0)
- Swift Current Broncos – 14 points (6-16-2-0)
- Goals: Lynden McCallum (Brandon) – 21
- Assists: Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 30
- Points: Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 43
- Defensive Scoring: Ryker Evans (Regina) – 28
- Rookie Scoring: Connor Bedard (Regina) – 28
- Plus/Minus: Braden Schneider (Brandon) and Ben McCartney (Brandon) – 18
- Penalty Minutes: Justin Nachbaur (Prince Albert) – 62
- Power Play Goals: Lynden McCallum (Brandon) – 9
- Power Play Assists: Braden Schneider (Brandon) – 15
- Game Winning Goals: Ben McCartney (Brandon) and Jakin Smallwood (Winnipeg) – 4
- Short Handed Goals: Ridly Greig (Brandon) – 4
- Short Handed Assists: Ben McCartney (Brandon) – 3
- Overtime Goals: Braden Schneider (Brandon) – 2
- Points Per Game: Connor Bedard (Regina) – 1.87
- Shutouts: Max Paddock (Prince Albert) and Nolan Maier (Saskatoon) – 2
- Goals Against Average: Gage Alexander (Winnipeg) – 2.23
- Rookie Goals Against Average: Daniel Hauser (Winnipeg) – 3.10
- Save Percentage: Gage Alexander (Winnipeg) – .917
- Wins: Ethan Kruger (Brandon) – 13
- Goals For: Brandon Wheat Kings – 104
- Goals Against: Brandon Wheat Kings – 61
- Penalty Minutes: Prince Albert Raiders – 369
- Power Play Percentage: Brandon Wheat Kings – 34.5
- Power Play Goals: Brandon Wheat Kings – 38
- Penalty Kill Percentage: Saskatoon Blades – 85.4
- Short Handed Goals: Brandon Wheat Kings – 7
- Goals: Lynden McCallum (Brandon), Ridly Greig (Brandon) and Connor McClennon (Winnipeg) – 4 games (McCallum had three four-game streaks where he had nine goals once and four goals twice, Greig had four goals in his streak while McClennon had five)
- Assists: Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 11 games (18 assists)
- Points: Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 23 games (43 points)
- Wins: Brandon Wheat Kings – 8
- Losses: Swift Current Broncos – 7
Two Weeks Left in Regular Season
While the East Division hub in Regina has drawn to a close, the other three regions in the Western Hockey League are entering the homestretch of their campaign.
The Alberta-based Central Division will wrap up on Thursday, May 6 when the Edmonton Oil Kings will visit the Medicine Hat Tigers, while the U.S. Division will conclude on Tuesday, May 11 as the Tri-City Americans will take on the Portland Winterhawks.
The final day of the 2020-21 season will belong to the B.C. Division on Wednesday, May 12 as the Kamloops Blazers will host the Prince George Cougars and the Kelowna Rockets will entertain the Victoria Royals.