With captain Kaiden Guhle and overage forward Justin Nachbaur already out of the lineup due to injuries and forward Logan Danis not being available after the first period, the Prince Albert Raiders had some challenges to overcome on Tuesday afternoon.
Instead of throwing in the towel, they put together their best showing in the East Division hub to date as they improved to 2-0-0-1 with a 5-3 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Brandt Centre in Regina.
“I’ve been coaching for a few years now and that was one of the best team games I’ve seen,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “They were connected, they were playing as a group and they did everything right. I’m really proud of them.
“We talked to the guys after Sunday’s game (when they lost 2-1 to the Moose Jaw Warriors in a shootout) and they responded with hard work.”
Michael Horon turned in the best performance of his WHL career in the triumph as he scored a goal and added two assists.
“I got the opportunity to play with Ozzy (Wiesblatt) and (Spencer) Moe today and I just wanted to fit in there with those two talented players,” said Horon, who had a two-goal outing for the Raiders on Dec. 7, 2019 against the Moose Jaw Warriors. “I thought they did a great job of finding me out there and I had some confidence with the puck today.
“I wanted to step into a bigger role this season after being in the league for a year (with the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Raiders) and I really worked on everything during this long off-season. I worked on my speed and getting stronger with my trainer back home (in Lethbridge) and I’ve felt great since I got here.”
Reece Vitelli and Evan Herman had a goal and an assist in the victory, while Wiesblatt dished out two helpers and rookie blueliner Graydon Gotaas lit the lamp for the first time in the WHL.
Eric Pearce rounded out the scoring for the Raiders, who received a strong 34-save performance from Max Paddock.
Ben McCartney had a goal and an assist to lead the way for the 1-1-0-1 Wheat Kings and Nolan Ritchie had a pair of apples.
Vincent Iorio and Neithan Salame also scored in the loss, which saw Connor Ungar make 19 saves.
The Raiders will enjoy a couple of days off before returning to action on Friday at 8 p.m. for their first meeting of the season with the Saskatoon Blades.
“We’ve been taking what the coaching staff has been saying to us and putting it to work, especially with our shot blocking and our defensive zone play,” Raiders blueliner Remy Aquilon said.
“I think we can still improve on things at both ends of the rink, but we’re doing a great job so far.”
While Guhle is out indefinitely due to a hand injury he suffered on Sunday against the Warriors, Nachbaur could be back in the lineup as soon as Friday night after missing the last two contests with a lower body injury.
Danis, who came out briefly before the start of the second period but went back down the hall and did not return, was being evaluated after Tuesday’s contest.
Wheat Kings forward Nate Danielson, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, recorded his first career point in the loss as he picked up an assist on Iorio’s first period marker.
In addition to the suspended Ridly Grieg, the Wheat Kings did not dress Jacob Hoffrogge and Logen Hammett.
- Winnipeg 6 Swift Current 4 (Jakin Smallwood – Two Goals – Cole Nagy – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Moose Jaw 5 Regina 4 (Daemon Hunt Overtime Winner – Brayden Yager – One Goal and Two Assists)
Around the WHL
The Regina Pats announced on Tuesday that forward Jakob Brook is out for the rest of the campaign with a broken right leg.
Brook, who was acquired by the Pats for Paddock at last year’s trade deadline, sustained the injury just 34 seconds into Friday’s opener against the Raiders after crashing into the endboards in a race for the puck with Guhle.
Although the Raiders knocked out their rivals in the second round of the playoffs in 2019, the Blades earned a measure of revenge last year as they took six out of eight meetings over their closest rivals.
Prince Albert’s Marek Schneider has yet to record a point for the Blades in two appearances for the club in Regina, while former Raiders blueliner Rhett Rhinehart had dished out a pair of helpers.
- Winnipeg vs. Saskatoon – 4 p.m.
- Regina vs. Swift Current – 8 p.m.
- Winnipeg vs. Moose Jaw – 4 p.m.
- Portland vs. Tri-City – 8 p.m.
- Swift Current vs. Brandon – 8 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Edmonton – 6 p.m.
- Calgary vs. Lethbridge – 7 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Seattle – 7 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Saskatoon – 8 p.m.