Ritchie’s late goal leads Raiders past Pats

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Niall Crocker of the Prince Albert Raiders battles for netfront presence during WHL pre-season action at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023

For the third consecutive game, the Prince Albert Raiders came away with a one-goal victory in WHL pre-season play as they knocked off the Regina Pats 4-3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday night.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says he was pleased with his team’s start.

“I liked our energy and the way we came out and pursued the puck. We won battles and we won races. I think that’s the biggest thing that got us going. We took the momentum early.”

Fans were barely settling in their seats when Ryder Ritchie opened the scoring with a wrist shot past Pats rookie netminder Ewen Huet just 1:44 into the first period. Sloan Stanick and Aiden Oiring had helpers on the play.

Justice Christensen would double the Raider lead just over four minutes later as he put a rebound home past Huet. Sloan Stanick had the lone assist on the play.

The Raiders outshot the Pats 11-8 in the frame.

THe Raider lead increase to three at the 14:05 mark of the second period as Justice Christensen would strike for his second of the contest. The goal was unassisted.

Regina would answer just over a minute later as former Lethbridge Hurricane Zack Stringer would sneak one past Cooper Anderson to cut the Raider lead to just 3-1. Jaxsin Vaughn and Braxton Whitehead assisted on the play.

Regina would cut the lead to one at the 16:05 mark on the power play as Tye Spencer would strike on the power play. Whitehead had the lone assist.

Just over a minute later, Spencer would even the score for Regina at the 17:36 mark on the power play. Whitehead and Ty Plaisier assisted on the play.

However, the Raiders would strike back as with just 37 seconds left on the clock, Ryder Ritchie would strike with his second of the night to give Prince Albert the lead for good. Christensen had the lone assist on the play.

Truitt says although the Raiders came away with two points, there were aspects of the game he thought Prince Albert could improve on.

“I didn’t like it. The second half of the first and even the second (period), it got to be a bit of a battle. I thought we did some uncharacteristic things, puck management we gave up odd man rushes, we were weak at times in our defensive zone. When it comes to the third period, we’re up 3-1 and you don’t want to give a team to come back 3-3 and that’s what happened. I thought we made things harder on ourselves then we needed to.”

With the Raiders set to close pre-season play versus Saskatoon in Warman on Saturday night, Truitt says he has some growth since the pre-season opener in Big River First Nation.

“I see some positives in puck control and poise and stuff. The real bullets aren’t flying yet, there are guys away at camp. We;re no different, but we got two guys who are gone and they’ll strengthen our club when they get back”

The home opener for the Prince Albert Raiders is on Friday, Sept. 22 when they welcome the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.