A strong third period with three goals powered the Prince Albert Raiders to a 3-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers at Co-Op Place in Western Hockey League play on Tuesday night.
Raiders head coach Jeff Truitt says the mental fortitude of the Raiders was key.
“We grinded it out. Tight game, 0-0 through two. I thought Medicine Hat took it to us in the first 10 minutes but then I thought we responded real well. I thought we gained some momentum after they scored and we started making plays. Biggest thing for me was the mental toughness and we stuck through it and stuck to the plan. Wasn’t executed the way we wanted to, but they stayed within the game and came out on top.”
The Tigers and Raiders played a scoreless game through 40 minutes, but each team had a goal disallowed.
Near the end of the first period, it appeared 2022 first overall pick Gavin McKenna had the opening marker for Medicine Hat, but a goaltender interference call nullified the goal.
The Raiders had a goal of their own waved off as Terrell Goldsmith batted a puck in midair off the back of Tigers goaltender Beckett Langkow just over a minute into the second period, but the goal was waved off due to Goldsmith’s stick being above the crossbar when he deflected the puck.
A scary moment for the Raiders early on in the third period as Evan Herman was checked hard into the board by Tigers forward Kurtis Smythe and had to leave the game. Herman did not return and will be evaluated prior to Wednesday’s game in Lethbridge.
The Tigers would strike first as Tyler Mackenzie would open the scoring 4:01 into the third period with his sixth of the season on the power play assisted by Oasiz Wiesblatt, brother of former Raider Ozzy Weisblatt, and Andrew Basha.
Less than a minute later, the Raiders would break into the score column as Sloan Stanick potted his fourth goal of the season at the 4:59 mark assisted by Crocker and Boucher.
Hayden Pakkala chose the perfect time to snap a goal drought of more than a month as the 18-year-old forward would give the Raiders the lead at the 15:35 mark with his second goal of the campaign on the power play. Pakkala’s most recent goal prior to Tuesday was Sept. 24 in Saskatoon.
Carson Latimer would ice the game for the Raiders with an empty net goal at the 19:23 mark of the third period.
Raiders goaltender Tikhon Chaika stopped 33 of 34 shots in net for Prince Albert, earning his fourth victory of the season.
“He held us in there. He was first star. He held us in throughout when the pressure was on. He came up with some huge saves for us, I thought he was outstanding.”
Sloan Stanick recorded three points in the game for Prince Albert, all coming after Herman left the game. Truitt says the veterans on the team are expected to make an impact in key situations.
“You ask those guys to step up, you ask those leaders to take over and generate something for us. He certainly did that and he was a catalyst that way and that is what you expect.”
The Raiders road trip continues on Wednesday night when they take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes from the Enmax Centre. Puck drops at 7pm local/8pm Saskatchewan time.