Slow start sinks Raiders in loss to Saskatoon

Photo by Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Prince Albert Raiders captain Evan Herman attempts a shot contested by Saskatoon Blades defenceman Tanner Molendyk during WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre.

A slow start proved to be too much to overcome for the Prince Albert Raiders as they fell 3-1 to the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday night, snapping a five game winning streak.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says it was early penalties that contributed to the slow start.

“I thought the difference was their power play vs our penalty kill here tonight. Three goals, two of them are power play goals and one of them is 4 on 4. You take a look at the halfway mark of the first period and I thought that we competed. I thought we didn’t have a ton of quality chances, but then we got into penalty trouble. At the end of the day, that’s the difference.”

A trio of goals in the first period got the visiting Blades off to a hot start.

Jayden Wiens would open the scoring at the 11:23 mark of the opening period with his 13th goal of the season coming on the power play after the Raiders were called for too many men. Brandon Lisowsky and Trevor Wong assisted on the play.

Lisowsky would add his second point of the night with his 29th goal of the season coming at the 14:01 mark of the first period. Trevor Wong would pick up the lone assist on the play.

After a roughing penalty against Hayden Pakkala, the Blades would add their second power play goal of the night. Jake Chiasson would strike with his 18th goal of the season at the 18:21 mark. Josh Pillar and Tanner Molendyk assisted on the play.

Saskatoon outshot Prince Albert 8-6 in the first period.

Neither team would find the back of the net in the second period. The visiting Blades outshot the Raiders 13-12 in the middle frame.

Prince Albert would break the seal on the score column just 1:28 into the third period. Ryder Ritchie’s 17th goal of the season cut the Blade lead to 3-1. Justice Christensen and Sloan Stanick picked up the assists on the play.

That would be all the offense the Raiders could muster against the Blades as Ethan Chadwick would make 24 saves in net for Saskatoon in the victory.

Max Hildebrand made 22 saves in goal for the Raiders in the loss.

Truitt says his goaltender gave the team a chance to win.

“He was solid. He certainly kept us in when we needed him to. Angle wise rebound control our guys were there to clean up any garbage around the net for him. We’re happy with his performance.”

After wins by Swift Current and Medicine Hat on Saturday night, the Raiders now sit 6 points back of a playoff spot with twelve games remaining in the regular season.

Truitt says that Prince Albert is ready for the challenge that a playoff push presents.

“There’s not a lot of room for error left. We’re ticking down on games left. Some teams that we are chasing are winning tonight and some are losing. We got to concentrate on keeping our work ethic right where it needs to be from here to game 68. We won’t slow down for anything to give ourselves the best chances to get there.”

The Raiders return to action on Tuesday night when they welcome the Central Division leading Red Deer Rebels to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.