So long, 2016

Luke Coleman makes a bid for his seventh on a shorthanded breakaway --- Dustin Saracini/Daily Herald

Raiders drop final game of the year to Regina

The Prince Albert Raiders welcomed the Regina Pats to the Art Hauser Centre before waving farewell to a subpar 2016. The last time these two met, the Raiders allowed 12 goals, the most in nearly two decades for the franchise in a single game. It didn’t get any easier tonight against one of the more dangerous teams in the WHL, as the Raiders dropped a 8-0 bout.

“One, they are a pretty good team,” head coach Marc Habscheid said.

“Two, it wasn’t an 8-0 game, no way, not a chance. Shots weren’t that bad against and there was a lot of things I liked about our game, territorially it was fine.”

Regina outshot Prince Albert by a narrow margin, 32-24, but capitalized on their chances. Four second period goals did Prince Albert in tonight, who will have to stay out of the box come Sunday if they want to have an impact.

“Penalties, we cannot take them,” he said.

“We talked about it. It’s one thing to take good penalties, but those were intolerable, bad penalties.”

Recently acquired D-Jay Jerome from the Red Deer Rebels played limited minutes in his debut, but made his mark with his playmaking ability. A handful of slick passes got the attention of coach Habscheid who said he just needs to develop.

“We didn’t put him in that much but he played enough,” he said.

“You can tell he’s got some skill and he’s going to be okay he just needs to play.”

In the first half of the opening period the Raiders were taking care of business inside their own end, limiting the quality scoring chances the Pats have so often been able to find this season. The momentum quickly swayed when the Pats heavily outshot Prince Albert on their own power play. Regina cracked through at the 8:48 mark after Jake Leschyshyn won a faceoff clean to Liam Schioler. The 6’3” defenceman fired a wrist shot through traffic for his first career WHL goal.

Luke Coleman had a golden chance to knot things up with a shorthanded breakaway, but it was Tyler Brown coming out of his crease to cut down the angle and ensure his Pats held onto the 1-0 lead for the time being. Tim Vanstone would later be denied twice by Brown on the doorstep while trying to sneak a couple of pucks through the five-hole.

The missed opportunities came back to haunt the Raiders as Austin Wagner might have scored the ugliest goal of his season to double the Pats’ lead on the power play. An awkward bounce off a Dawson Leedahl shot ricochet off the skate of the Los Angeles Kings’ fourth rounder from the slot and in, much to the surprise of the crowd. The notch was good for his 16th and a 2-0 lead.

Regina continued their scoring ways in the second, collecting four goals to break the game open. Nick Henry found some space at the Raiders blue line before blasting a shot off Ian Scott and into the back of the net. Chase Harrison and Sam Steel collaborated on the tally that chased Scott from the game, who allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Henry and Steel rudely welcomed Nicholas Sanders four minutes later, handing the Pats a 4-0 lead on the formers 17th. Regina continued to smell blood in the water midway through the second as Leschyshyn swatted home a sitting duck puck in the crease to make it 5-0.

Steel, who recently signed with the Anaheim Ducks, then added his 26th while shorthanded, giving him three points in the period. It was a tough one to swallow if you’re Max Martin and the Raiders, whose pass clanked off the side of the net and right onto the stick of Steel. His big night catapulted him to the top of the WHL point leader totals with 62, surpassing teammate Adam Brooks.

Lane Zablocki and Rykr Cole rounded out the scoring in the third period, tallying their ninth and sixth of the campaign.

The Raiders ring in the new year Sunday against these same Pats.

Puck drop is at 4 p.m.

Daily Herald THREE STARS

  1. Sam Steel (1 G, 2 A, +3)
  2. Nick Henry (2 G, +2)
  3. Liam Schioler (1 G, +1)