Warriors edge Raiders in OT for 1-1 series split

Prince Albert Raiders forward Regan Nagy (21) carries the puck up ice against the Moose Jaw Warriors while Moose Jaw forward Justin Almeida (8) pursues him during the teams' March 9, 2018 game in P.A. -- Daily Herald File Photo

The Prince Albert Raiders almost completed the comeback, but they ultimately fell short against the Moose Jaw Warriors Saturday night.

The Warriors beat the Raiders 3-2 in overtime to salvage a 1-1 series split in Game 2 of the teams’ best-of-seven Western Hockey League playoff series. The Raiders downed the Warriors 5-3 in the opening game of the series Friday; both games were played in Moose Jaw.

On Saturday, the Raiders erased a two-goal deficit to tie the game and force sudden-death overtime, thanks to scores from Sean Montgomery and Vojtech Budik in the second and third periods, respectively.

Warriors captain Brett Howden scored both of Moose Jaw’s regulation-time goals to give his side the early 2-0 lead after 21 minutes of play.

The extra frame was a back-and-forth contest, with Moose Jaw firing five shots on goalie Ian Scott while Prince Albert had four shots on netminder Brody Willms.

But the Warriors soon prevailed at 7:30 of overtime: Justin Almeida scored the game-winning goal for the win.

The 19-year-old centreman created a turnover at his blue line while battling for the puck with a Raiders defenceman. Almeida then nudged the puck forward into the neutral zone and grabbed it to create an open lane to skate in on Scott.

Forcing Scott to go down and wide with a deke move, Almeida slid the puck through the goalie’s exposed five-hole for the game-winning goal. He also crashed into Scott in the process and knocked the goalie into the back of his net, but the goal stood and the Warriors emerged with the win.

“Tonight was a tough loss. We came out slow and showed good character to battle our way back. In overtime, it was kind of an unlucky play and it ended up in the back of our net,” Raiders alternate captain Parker Kelly said of the game.

Big-picture wise, he was optimistic about the series split.

“All of the odds were against us this weekend. Getting a win here was huge. We needed to steal one on the road and we got one. So we’re not thinking about the end of this one too much, we’re already moving on to Tuesday,” Kelly said

Scott made 38 of 41 saves in the losing effort, while Willms stopped 28 of 30 Raiders’ shots for the win.

The teams now move on to the third and fourth games of their series in Prince Albert. Game 3 goes on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre, and Game 4 is on Wednesday at the same time and same place.

With files from Matthew Gourlie at dubnetwork.ca