Wheat Kings hold on, edge Raiders 3-2

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Brandon Wheat Kings forward Rylen Roersma attempts to drive by Raider defenceman Easton Kovacs during WHL action at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday night.

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored early and held on to the lead, defeating the Prince Albert Raiders 3-2 on Thursday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says Prince Albert had the chances to win the game, but couldn’t win the physical battle to get to loose pucks.

“It was a tightly contested affair here tonight. There wasn’t a ton of room, physical. Guys were finishing off their checks. Getting to the front of the net was tough. You get those pucks laying around, and there might be an inch away from the post. You’ve got to be able to battle to get in there. We just didn’t win that battle. But we had a couple of posts here tonight. We had enough chances to win the game. 

Jayden Wiens would get Brandon on the board early with his 14th goal of the season putting home a rebound just 0:26 into the first period. Caleb Hadland had the lone assist

At the 2:02 mark of the third period, a Brandon faceoff win would put the puck on the tape of Matteo Michels who would rifle his 13th goal of the season past Hildebrand to double the Wheat King lead. Dominik Petr had the lone assist.

Aiden Oiring would cut the Brandon lead in half at the 6:34 mark as he would tip a Sloan Stanick shot past Carson Bjarnason for his 13th goal of the season. Krzysztof Macias picked up the secondary helper on the play.

After a 2-on-1 break, Michels would return the Brandon lead to two as he would record his second goal of the game at the 10:30 mark. Nolan Flamand and Seth Tansem assisted on the play.

The Raiders would cut the lead to just one as Niall Crocker would tip home his 20th goal of the season with just 14.7 seconds to go. Justice Christensen and Ryder Ritchie assisted on the play.

Bjarnason made 31 stops for Brandon in the win, while Hildebrand made 21 for Prince Albert.

Ritchie makes return to the lineup

Ryder Ritchie made his return to the Raider lineup after suffering a lower body injury back on Dec. 15.

Truitt says Ritchie played well in his return.

“I thought he was good, he was confident, he had the puck, he was skating well. He wanted to be involved, he just didn’t ease into it. I thought he was good today.”

Raider centreman Aiden Oiring, who played alongside Ritchie earlier in the season prior to the injury says it was a big boost for the club to see him back on the ice.

“We’re definitely excited to have him back. He’s been practicing with us for a couple of weeks and the excitement he’s been feeling the past couple days of getting back in the lineup. We’re happy for him to get back. I just can’t wait for him to start producing again like he was before.”

The Raiders return to action Saturday night when they welcome Brandon to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.