Road fatigue sets in as Raiders drop 4-1 decision to Hitmen in Calgary

Zachary Wilson scored his first WHL goal on Saturday in Calgary. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the opening goal of the game, but gave up four straight goals in the second and third period, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday afternoon.

Fatigue played a big factor in the game, as the Raiders came in on very little rest, playing a game against the Hurricanes the night before. The short turnaround proved to be the difference maker, as the legs weren’t moving at the same pace as Friday night’s affair. Meanwhile, the Hitmen came into the game well rested, not having played a game since Jan. 2nd.

Despite the short rest, Prince Albert opened the scoring at the 15:10 mark of the first period. Niall Crocker worked behind the net, throwing a pass in front. Hayden Pakkala had his original chance denied by Brayden Peters, but a rebound was left in front. Zachary Wilson found the rebound and ripped a shot from the slot and in.

Wilson’s first Western Hockey League goal put the Raiders up 1-0 late in the first. That was the only goal in the opening frame, as Prince Albert took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, leading in shots 14-9.

The Hitmen fought back in the second period, scoring the game tying goal with 12:25 left in the second. Carter Yakemchuk sent a pass over to Sean Tschigerl, and he picked a corner on the blocker side on Tikhon Chaika. Tschigerl’s 16th goal of the season made it a 1-1 score.

Just 1:03 after the Hitmen tied it, Calgary took their first lead of the game. Riley Fiddler-Schultz picked up a loose puck and headed into the Raider zone. Walking in, Fiddler-Schultz ripped a shot top corner, overpowering Chaika, and just like that, the Hitmen saw themselves in front 2-1.

The Raiders saw themselves trailing by two goals later in the second period. Shortly after taking a penalty, Sean Tschigerl scored his second goal of the contest on a tip play in front of the net. Blake Stevenson let a shot go and Tschigerl was parked in front of the net and got his stick on the shot, deflecting it in past Chaika.

After a strong first period for Prince Albert, the Hitmen were able to shift the tide, taking a 3-1 lead, scoring three goals in five minutes. Calgary took that lead into the second intermission, while the Raiders led in shots 23-22.

No serious scoring chances developed until the back half of the third period. Reece Vitelli was sent to the penalty box for the Raiders on a hooking call. Blake Stevenson worked his way in on goal and sent a pass in front of the net. The puck didn’t get through to Tschgerl, but it went off a skate in front and into the net. Stevenson was credited with Calgary’s second powerplay goal of the game, and the Hitmen took a 4-1 lead with 6:24 left in regulation.

Some late chances for the Raiders were snuffed out by Peters, and the Hitmen held their lead, winning by a 4-1 final.

The loss snaps a brief two game winning streak for the Raiders. They have two more games on their Alberta road swing. They’ll head to Red Deer for a meeting with the Rebels on Monday night.