Simon Stransky scored the first two Prince Albert goals and set up the insurance marker as the Raiders closed out the 2016-17 season with a 5-1 win over the Saskatoon Blades.
It was the Blades who emerged from the first period with a 1-0 lead holding the home side to just four shots on goal in the opening twenty minutes, but the game turned in the blink of an eye.
Kolten Olynek won a faceoff and Stransky buried his first goal of the night into the top corner at 5:24 of the second period, and added a power play marker about six minutes later on a screen shot along the ice. Stransky ended the season with a career high 22 goals.
Ironically, Olynek’s game and season came to an end as part of a second fight during the same stoppage. The 20-year-old’s last act as a WHL player was wrestling Blades defenseman Jackson Caller to the ice.
Curtis Miske extended the lead to 3-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the middle frame, converting Stransky’s perfect pass from the top of the circle to the side of the Blades net. The power play goal was Miske’s 21st of the season.
The Raiders pulled away in the third period on goals by Adam Kadlec and Cody Paivarinta. Although the game was no longer in doubt, goalie Ian Scott made some big saves in the third period including a breakaway stop off Caleb Fantillo which topped off a terrific 24-save performance.
The Raiders were 2/3 on the power play and the penalty kill while outshooting the Blades 31-25.
The traditional “Running back to Saskatoon” song usually played following each Blades loss at the Art Hauser Centre, started to ring out with just over a minute to go much to the delight of most of the sellout crowd of 2,953.
The game also marked the end of captain Tim Vanstone’s five year career and, like Olynek, he wouldn’t be on the bench for the end of the game. Vanstone and Blades defenseman Mark Rubinchick were given ten minute misconducts with about seven minutes remaining.
Vanstone had the final word to conclude the post game team awards ceremony on the ice, thanking his teammates, billets, family and coaches. He paid special tribute to Dave Manson, calling his associate coach the perfect example of a Raider with his grit and desire, someone he modelled his own game after.
Head coach Marc Habscheid told the 900 CKBI post game show audience in the Ches Leach Lounge it was a sad night for coaches and players alike as this team assembled for the last time. Habscheid said this team increased its win total from seven at the Christmas break to 21 to end the season because of its character and willingness to work hard each day.
The Raiders missed out on passing Edmonton for 10th place in the Eastern Conference as the Oil Kings beat Red Deer 4-1.
The season in review can be heard on 900 CKBI’s face-off this Monday at 5:30pm with Habscheid and general manager Curtis Hunt.
On Twitter: RaidersVoice
Here is the complete list of 2016-17 Year-End Award winners:
Scholastic Player of the Year – Adam Kadlec
Humanitarian of the Year – Drew Warkentine
Hardest Working Player of the Year – Parker Kelly
Molson Cup Three Star Awards
1st – Ian Scott, 2nd – Simon Stransky, 3rd – Cavin Leth
Jim Pattison Group Three Stars Award – Simon Stransky
Best Conditioned Player – Nick Heid
Most Improved Player – Zack Hayes
Leading Scorer Award – Simon Stransky
Top Defenseman-- Vojtech Budik
Rookie of the Year – Cole Fonstad
Most Valuable Player – Tim Vanstone
The Raiders also presented the Raiders graduating 20-year-old players – Cavin Leth, Kolten Olynek and Tim Vanstone – with one of their own game-worn jerseys.
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