Saturday’s trip to the Canalta Centre was an up-and-down one for the Prince Albert Raiders.
After falling behind 2-0 to the Medicine Hat Tigers after six minutes and having starting goaltender Boston Bilous pulled in the process, the Raiders clawed their way back to tie things up at two midway through the contest.
However, that would be as close as the defending Western Hockey League champions would get as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tigers and saw their three game win streak come to an end.
“The push was on and while I thought we were the more physical team tonight, they were a little quicker and they were able to make more plays in the third,” Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt said on the 900 CKBI post-game show.
“We had a couple of chances but we just didn’t make quality plays. We were turning pucks over a lot in the middle of the ice, and against a team like this that generates so much speed, you are going to be on your heels.”
Although the final 40 minutes were fairly even between the two sides, the Tigers dominated the opening frame as they outshot the Raiders 12-4 and could have easily been up by a handful of goals if it wasn’t for some big saves by backup netminder Carter Serhyenko and some help from the goal posts.
“We just couldn’t get anything going and we didn’t generate a lot of speed,” Truitt said. “Give Medicine Hat a lot of credit though as they did a great job of clogging up the neutral zone, but then we would just be one and done when we got in their offensive zone.
“We were really scrambling there to find our identity. We pushed forward to tie things up in the second and we made a game of it again.”
After Bilous allowed two goals on his first five shots, Serhyenko was solid in relief as he made 27 saves in his fifth appearance of the campaign for the top team in the East Division.
The Raiders got their goals from Spencer Moe and Remy Aquilon, who found the back of the net for the first time in his WHL career during his 82nd regular season game.
Brett Kemp had a goal and an assist to lead the way for the Tigers as they improved to 16-7-1-0 with their second straight win, but remain in third place in the Central Division standings.
Cole Sillinger, Jonathan Brinkman and Corson Hopwo also scored for the hosts, while Ottawa Senators draft pick Mads Sogaard turned aside 25 shots.
The 16-5-3-1 Raiders are now off until next Friday night, when they’ll welcome the Swift Current Broncos to the Art Hauser Centre for the first time this season.
The two sides will then square off again a night later at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex.
Saturday’s win for the Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak they had against the Raiders, with their last victory coming in a 5-4 shootout affair at the Art Hauser Centre on Dec. 6, 2017.
It also ended a four-game skid at the Canalta Centre to their East Division foes that dated back to a 3-2 Tigers triumph on Feb. 8, 2017.
Aliaksei Protas extended his point streak to seven games during the second period as he had an assist on Spencer Moe’s goal.
The Washington Capitals prospect has 37 points in 25 games and is tied for the WHL scoring lead with Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who had five points in an 11-2 romp over the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night.
Eric Pearce and Cole Nagy did not dress for the Raiders, while the Tigers scratched Bryan Lockner and Caleb Willms.
- Regina 5 Brandon 4 (Robbie Holmes – One Goal and One Assist)
- Calgary 4 Moose Jaw 1 (Jett Woo – One Goal and One Assist)
- Portland 4 Everett 3 (Jake Gricius – One Goal and One Assist)
- Prince George 5 Kamloops 3 (Taylor Gauthier – 48 Saves)
- Lethbridge 11 Red Deer 2 (Dylan Cozens – One Goal and Four Assists – Calen Addison – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
- Seattle 3 Saskatoon 2 (Blake Lyda – 35 Saves)
- Spokane 5 Winnipeg 3 (Adam Beckman – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Kelowna 2 Tri-City 1 (Leif Mattson – Two Goals)
- Vancouver 5 Edmonton 4 (Justin Sourdif Overtime Winner – Tristen Nielsen – Two Goals and One Assist)
Around the WHL
American forward Ty Smilanic, a third round pick by the Regina Pats and the first player that they chose in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, has committed to the NCAA’s Quinnipiac Bobcats for next season.
The 17-year-old from Denver, Colo., who had previously been committed to the Denver Pioneers, has four points in two USHL games this year for the US NTDP and is currently projected by NHL Central Scouting to be a first round pick at next June’s NHL Draft.
- Tri-City vs. Everett – 6 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Portland – 7 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Edmonton vs. Kelowna – 9 p.m.