Trio of first period goals lead Raiders past Rebels

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Prince Albert Raiders forward Brayden Dube carries the puck along the right wing during WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre on Feb. 28, 2023

After their five game winning streak was snapped on Saturday night against Saskatoon, the Prince Albert Raiders got themselves back in the win column with a 5-2 victory over the Central division leading Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Raiders would come out of the gate strong against Red Deer, exploding for a trio of goals in the opening twenty minutes.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says that Prince Albert were able to put the Rebels on their heels early.

“It’s not easy, they are a big powerful team with a lot of speed in pursuit. We wanted to get on them and make sure we were the aggressive team. So I thought we did that in the first.”

After a too many men bench minor against Red Deer, the Raider power play would open the scoring. Niall Crocker would rip home his 14th goal of the season to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead. Keaton Sorenson and Niall Crocker would assist on the play.

The Raiders would draw up a near carbon copy of the opening goal later in the period after Hunter Mayo would be sent off for Red Deer with a roughing minor penalty.

Crocker would pick up his second goal of the night at the 14:18 mark to double the Raider lead at 2-0. Sorenson and Kosior assisted on the play.

Crocker says he enjoys playing with his teammates on the Raider power play unit.

“It’s awesome. They move the puck really well and I just get my body in front of the net. They make big plays and today I was just in the right spot, so I owe it a lot to them.”

In the dying seconds of the opening frame, the Raiders would strike once more. With just eight seconds remaining in the first period, Landon Kosior would bury his 17th goal of the season to give Prince Albert a 3-0 lead after one period of play. Ritchie and Eric Johnston assisted on the play.

Prince Albert outshot the Rebels 13-5 after twenty minutes. Red Deer did not register a shot on goal until over 10 minutes into the game.

The Rebels would respond 4:58 into the second period as JAce Isley would put home a rebound for his 27th goal of the season to cut the Raider lead to 3-1. Jayden Grubbe picked up the lone assist on the play.

Keaton Sorenson would restore the three goal advantage for the Raiders with his 21st goal of the season coming at the 16:10 mark of the second period. Harrison Lodewyk and Brayden Dube would assist on the play.

However the Rebels would trim the lead back to two with just 2.8 seconds remaining in the second period. Jhett Larson would strike for his 14th goal of the season. Hunter Mayo and Jace Weir assisted on the play.

Sloan Stanick would find a loose puck off a rebound and would fire a wrist shot past Rebel nerminder Kyle Kelsey for his 20th goal of the campaign to restore the three goal Raider lead at 5-2 at the 14:48 mark of the third period. Eric Johnston and Hayden Pakkala would assist on the play.

Max Hildebrand earned the win in net for the Raiders making 19 saves.

Truitt says Raiders have to keep stringing together strong efforts to stay in the playoff race.

“We’re not done yet. We’ve been playing meaningful games for a long time. The mentality didn’t start a couple weeks ago, this has been going on for a long time. This team works hard. They’re getting pursued on pucks, they are winning battles and being smart with their decisions. Our special teams are getting better at a key time. We need to keep going.”

The Raiders return to action on Friday night when the Lethbridge Hurricanes visit the Art Hauser Centre for the second time this season. Puck drops at 7 p.m.