Slow start dooms Raiders in road loss to Edmonton

Herald file photo.

The Prince Albert Raiders couldn’t overcome a slow start as they fell 6-4 to the Edmonton Oil Kings at Rogers Place on Friday kick off a three game in three night road trip.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt was disappointed in the way Prince Albert played in the first period.

“(It was) awful. Big games like this, you got to rise to the occasion.” Truitt said in a post-game interview. “You’ve got to raise your level. I thought that they looked like the hungrier team, and they capitalized on some chances we had some chances, but we seemed to find the goaltender’s equipment rather than the netting. They found the netting.”

Edmonton would score a trio of goals in the first period to take a commanding 3-0 lead after twenty minutes.

Landon Hanson’s fourth goal of the season would get the Oil Kings going at the 11:49 mark. Marc Lajoie and Matthew Gallant provided the helpers.

Rhys Pederson’s first goal of the season would double the Edmonton lead at the 15:21 mark. Skyler Bruce and Gracyn Sawchyn assisted on the play.

During a 5-on-3 power play, Marc Lajoie would wire home his 15th goal of the season at the 17:46 mark. Gavin Hodnett and Sawchyn assisted on the play.

It was more of the same to start the second as Skyler Bruce would lengthen the Edmonton lead to 4-0 at the 10:59 mark. Smyth Rebman and Gavin Hodnett provided the assists.

After the fourth Oil King goal, Max Hildebrand was removed from the game in favor of rookie netminder Nathan Preston.

Truitt says the move was not a reflection on Hildebrand, who made 16 saves prior to the change.

“I don’t think that the guys really protected Max very well. Max made some pretty good saves for us, but when we’re giving up breakaways and odd man rush goals and things like that, you’re hurting your goaltender. You’re expecting him to make those saves rather than preventing any of these rushes or breakaways.  No fault on Max. I won’t lay any blame or anything like that on him. It’s the guys in front of him that have to get a lot tighter here. The important games, they mean a lot and you need everybody doing your thing.”

The Raiders would finally break through on the scoreboard at the 12:46 mark of the second period. Sloan Stanick and Jacob Hoffrogge assisted on the play.

The Raiders outshot the Oil Kings 26-22 after forty minutes of play.

Turner McMillen would cut the Raider deficit to two with his second goal in a Prince Albert uniform just 3:47 into the third period. Luke Moroz and Brayden Dube provided the helpers on the play.

Nipawin product Roan Woodward would restore the three goal advantage for Edmonton with his ninth goal of the season at the 10:27 mark of the final frame. Hodnett and Eastyn Mannix assisted on the play.

Niall Crocker would keep the back and forth nature of the third period going as he would record his second goal of the hockey game at the 13:12 mark of the third period. Eric Johnston and Sloan Stanick received credit for the helpers.

Crocker would complete the hat trick at the 17:56 mark as he would knock home a rebound to bring Prince Albert within one. Krzysztof Macias and Sloan Stanick assisted on the play.

Ty Nash would dash any hopes of a Raider comeback with an empty net goal at the 19:29 mark.

Nathan Preston made nine saves in relief of Max Hildebrand while Kolby Hay earned the win for Edmonton making 36 stops to earn the win.

The Raiders return to action on Saturday night when they take on the Red Deer Rebels on the road. Puck drops at 8 p.m. Saskatchewan time.