Watterodt hat-trick sinks Raiders in loss to Blades

Photo provided by Darren Steinke. Prince Albert Raiders forward Keaton Sorenson handles the puck during WHL action at the SaskTel Centre on Dec. 27, 2022.

The Prince Albert Raiders couldn’t contain Vaughn Watterodt and opened the second half of the WHL season with a 3-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades at the SaskTel Centre.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says there was plenty of positive signs for the Raiders.

“I thought that we worked. We put in a good working game. We were quick on pucks. We gave up some shots in the first period. I saw a lot of good things tonight. Defensively, we poked the puck out really well. I thought in the neutral zone we were a little loose at times. Forecheck, when we were on them, we had guys going on and on pucks. We had good looks that way. There was a bit of a lack of finish. We worked hard tonight. We wanted redemption”

Saskatoon opened the scoring at the 16:46 mark of the first period. Vaughn Watterodt send the teddy bears flying at the SaskTel Centre with his 11th goal of the season past Raider goaltender Max Hildebrand.

The Raiders and Blades took the first intermission after the teddy bear toss goal and would play the remaining 3:14 of the first period immediately followed by the second period.

After the intermission, Watterodt continued to have the hot hand for the Blades. He would skate up the left wing and his wrist shot would beat Hildebrand high blocker side to double the Saskatoon lead to 2-0 at the 19:01 mark

Shots in the first period favored Saskatoon 15-5.

Despite the shot totals at the end of the night heavily favoring the home side, Truitt says there was some good chances for the Raiders.

“We had a couple really good looks. They doa really good job of keeping you to the outside and protecting the middle of the ice. We had some good looks in tight and some second chances we needed to get to a little bit more. We had some people at that net and we don’t get that second opportunity. Those are the small areas you need to win those types of battles to get second opportunities.”

The story of the night continued to be Vaughn Watterodt as the 18-year-old completed the hat trick at the 17:07 mark of the second period to extend the Saskatoon advantage to 3-0 after two periods of play.

The Raiders would score the lone goal of the third period at the 18:53 mark as Carter Anderson would take a puck up the right wing and would be taken down by Tanner Molendyk, the pair would crash into Blades netminder Austin Elliott but the puck would cross the line. The goal was Anderson’s 5th of the season and first as a Raider.

Shots favored the Blades 35-16 in the contest. Austin Elliott earned the win for Saskatoon making 15 saves. Max Hildebrand stopped 32 Blade shots in the loss.

The Raiders return to action on Dec. 30 when they welcome the Regina Pats to the Art Hauser Centre.

The Pats will be without captain Connor Bedard and top rearguard Stanislav Svozil who will be at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Halifax.

Truitt says the gameplan remains the same, even with Regina missing a couple of their top players.

“Doesn’t change anything. We have to worry about how we play. We play hard and play with tempo and play the same type of game we played here. IT doesn’t matter, the opponent is the opponent and it doesn’t change an awful lot. The consistency is what we are looking for and that’s what we need to bring to Regina.”