Wednesday’s game was a long time coming for Nick McBride.
The Prince Albert Raiders sophomore registered his first victory since Oct. 28, making 24 saves in a 3-0 shutout win over the Spokane Chiefs.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, McBride had lost all of his last 11 decisions before breaking that streak in style with an excellent performance on Wednesday. Although he only faced nine shots in the first 40 minutes, McBride was very sharp in the third as he stopped all 15 incoming pucks and helped kill off three third-period penalties.
“It feels very relieving… great… I really don’t know what else to say,” said McBride, basking in the glory of his second career shutout. “It’s nice to be in the room after a win when I actually played.
“It’s been a long time. It feels good.”
McBride received a warm ovation from the Raider fans after the game and in his live, postgame interviews in the Ches Leach Lounge. But that wasn’t all, he earned a ton of respect and kind words from his teammates for how hard he’s worked to get here.
“I’m pretty happy for him, he deserves it,” said McBride’s teammate Matteo Gennaro. “He had his struggles at the beginning of the year but he’s looks a lot more confident in the net.”
“It hasn’t been an easy year for him, but he just keeps battling and keeps a positive attitude and keeps working on his game,” said Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. “That’s what you have to do and eventually, you get rewarded for it like he is right now.”
McBride, who was excited almost to the point of giddiness in his interviews after the game, was very appreciative of the support from his teammates and fans.
“I’m just really thankful that they stuck through and believed in me,” said McBride. “That’s what really it means to me, (knowing) people have my back.”
McBride got some scoring support in the second period thanks to three quick goals. Two of those goals came from the Tim Vanstone, Matteo Gennaro and Craig Leverton line. Vanstone got the party started early in the second, before Matteo Gennaro scored a highlight reel backhand-forehand deke past a helpless Chiefs goalie Garret Hughson.
“We’ve been playing together now for a couple weeks, so we’ve found some chemistry so it’s nice to play with guys that are pretty fast,” said Leverton, who got primary assists on both Vanstone and Gennaro’s goals. “(Gennaro) is a very skilled guy and a young guy still.
“Sometimes he’s a little bit down on himself, so when he gets some confidence, he does stuff like that that’s pretty magical. It makes you just watch.”
Gennaro has really turned up the heat offensively in the 2015 calendar year. Gennaro has 13 points in his last 16 games dating back to Jan. 7, after scoring just six in the previous 40 games.
“I’ve finally put a few good months of hockey together and I’m more confident with my skills with the puck,” said Gennaro. “I’m pretty dedicated, I’m getting better at things in practice and I feel like the hard work’s paying off.
“A lot of it is because of our team’s success as of late.”
Raiders defenceman Colton Heffley scored the Raiders’ second goal from the point, utilizing a Darcy Zaharichuk screen in front of the net.
Vanstone left the game and didn’t return for the third period. Habscheid didn’t reveal the nature of his injury, but described Vanstone’s ailment as day-to-day and needed to be re-evaluated before Saturday’s game against the Regina Pats.
Spanked by the Yanks
The Raiders have had a ton of trouble with American clubs this year prior to the 3-0 win over the Chiefs. Heading into Wednesday, the Raiders were 0-4 against American teams and were outscored 17-5.
The first two were under the tutelage of former head coach Cory Clouston: the Oct. 7, 4-1 loss against the Tri-City Americans and the 5-2 loss to the Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 24. Under Habscheid, the Raiders lost to the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-2 on Nov. 7 and the Everett Silvertips 2-0 on Jan. 2.
Got that Brooksie?
Chiefs overager Calder Brooks made his first trip back to the Art Hauser Centre since getting traded by the Raiders to the Chiefs on Sept. 29 for a fifth round draft choice. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to play as he’s been sidelined with an upper body injury since Jan. 3. He’s been a very important player for the Chiefs, as they are 5-11-0-1 since Brooks has been sidelined.
He’s one of two Chiefs who have scored at over a point-per-game pace, the other being leading scorer Adam Helewka.
Three of their next four games are on home ice, starting Saturday against the Regina Pats, Feb. 17 against the Red Deer Rebels and Feb. 20 versus the Brandon Wheat Kings. The lone roadie in that stretch is this Sunday against the Wheat Kings.
On Twitter: @jeff_dandrea
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