Special teams cost Raiders in 3-1 game one loss to ICE

The Winnipeg ICE scored two powerplay goals on their way to a 3-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders in game one of their playoff series. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders took penalties at costly times in their game one matchup with the Winnipeg ICE, and it came back to haunt them. The ICE scored two powerplay goals on their way to a 3-1 win over the Raiders on Friday night. Daniel Hauser made 19 saves in the win for Winnipeg, while Tikhon Chaika turned aside 27 out of 30 shots in the loss.

“We hung around,” head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We made it 2-1 and then we took a really bad penalty, and then Winnipeg made it 3-1. We talked about penalties. Our penalty killers are good but we can’t be taking bad penalties against these guys. We took two or three bad ones and it cost us.”

A scrambly start to the game for the Raiders saw heavy pressure in their own end of the ice. Winnipeg laid constant pressure in the Prince Albert zone, drawing the first penalty of the game 6:48 into the first period. While the ICE didn’t capitalize on the ensuing man advantage, that didn’t slow any of their pressure down.

With just under eight minutes to go in the opening frame, Winnipeg found the icebreaker. Cole Muir chased a loose puck in the corner behind Chaika and worked the puck around the Raider cage. Spotting an open Jakin Smallwood in front, Muir sent a perfect pass to the tape in the slot. Smallwood made good on the pass, pushing a quick forehand shot past the Raider netminder glove side.

While they were outshot 11-2 in the first period, the Raiders could consider themselves somewhat lucky to be trailing by just a 1-0 score after 20 minutes.

9:24 into the second period, the ICE doubled their lead 16 seconds into a man advantage. From the top of the right circle, Zach Benson sent a pass down low to Owen Pederson, who did the rest of the work. From the goal line, Pederson cut towards the net and looked like he was going to send a pass across the crease, but kept the puck. The fake opened Chaika’s five hole, and Pederson slipped the puck through his legs and into the back of the net.

After the Raiders came out with a better start to the second period, it was Winnipeg that found the first goal of the middle frame, as they went up 2-0 with the powerplay marker.

That powerplay marker was the only goal of the second period, as the ICE took a 2-0 lead into the third. It was a much better period for Prince Albert, however. Winnipeg led 18-9 in shots through 40 minutes.

Contrary to the first and second period, it was the Raiders who found the first goal in the third period. Raider captain and Winnipeg native Reece Vitelli got the Raiders on the board with a neat deflection in front. The tipped puck worked its way past Hauser’s glove by the near post, as Vitelli’s goal cut the Winnipeg lead to 2-1.

“We were right there,” Habscheid said. “The shots were close, the score was close. We hung around, and we just have to clean up a few things.”

That score didn’t last very long however, as Hayden Pakkala was sent to the penalty box after taking a high sticking penalty, giving the ICE a chance to regain their two goal lead. 53 seconds into the man advantage, Connor McClennon sniped a one timer from the left circle past Chaika, restoring Winnipeg’s two goal lead, making it a 3-1 spread.

“It’s terrible,” Habscheid said. “We were right there, it was 2-1, and then we take a high sticking penalty behind their net. You just can’t do that, and we’ve talked about it. You just cannot do that.”

On a late powerplay in the third period, the Raiders had the puck in the Winnipeg zone for most of the final three minutes of the contest, but couldn’t find a way to bury pucks past Hauser. Even with Chaika on the bench in favour of the extra attacker, the ICE stood tall on defense, with blocked shots and key saves, as the ICE came away with the 3-1 victory.

“There are some guys, especially some older guys that need to step up,” Habscheid added. “Without naming names, there are some guys that could have played a lot better.”

Game two goes on Saturday night in Winnipeg. Puck drop is at 6 p.m.