Raiders win a statement game over the 'Hawks

By Jeff D'Andrea
January 11, 2019 - 10:45pm

The Prince Albert Raiders made a big statement with their 4-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Raiders entered Friday’s game with a bad taste in their mouth after a lacklustre effort 4-1 defeat to the Seattle Thunderbirds, and a 2-3 record on home ice since the holiday break. That’s a far cry from the Raiders' 17 straight home wins they had in the first half of the year.

But the Raiders responded and doubled up the second-ranked Winterhawks team in the WHL Western Conference—who had won four straight games at the Art Hauser Centre dating back to 2010 before Friday’s contest.

“They’re a good team. That was a good hockey game, whoever came got their money’s worth tonight,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “It was kind of like a playoff atmosphere. We weren’t intimidated by them, and they weren’t of us. Just two good teams going at it.”

That bumps the Raiders’ record up to 36-5-0-1. The Winterhawks fall to 25-12-3-2 on the season. The Raiders will finish off the year with a 4-1 record against the U.S. Division teams. Their only American blemish this year was their 4-1 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday.

It was a big game for Brett Leason. He ended a six-game goal drought, which is a long one considering the high standards he’s set for himself this season, by scoring the game-winner in the third period. Leason beat the Winterhawks’ new goaltender Joel Hofer through the legs.

“It’s been a while since I’ve scored one,” Leason said. “So it was finally nice to get a bounce and get one in.

“I just got the puck wide, was looking on net. I saw the goalie had good position, so I tried to slide it five-hole and it worked. It went through.”

Oddly enough, the last time Leason scored a goal was against Hofer back in his Bronco days on Dec. 4. The Broncos won that game, however, 3-2 in a shootout. But despite Leason’s absence in the goal scoring column and his trip to the World Juniors, Leason is still tied for third in goals with 29.

“We need him, he’s a big part of our team,” Habscheid said. “He’s not here to block shots, that’s for sure. He’s here to score goals and we need him scoring goals. I think earlier, he didn’t have that jump in his step I don’t think. He was better tonight and I think that goal will really help him.”

Raiders goaltender Ian Scott had a standout performance, making 27 saves on 29 shots. His best of the night was a diving glove save on WHL leading goal and point scorer, Joachim Blichfeld in the first period.

“That was a good one, for sure. That was a good save, an important save. There was that seeing-eye one in there, but he’s an important guy. I thought Hofer played well for them, too.”

Hofer sure did, just ask Raider forward Parker Kelly. Kelly was robbed on numerous occasions, especially this one in the third period.

The Raiders’ penalty kill sure got its reps, as they kill off five of six penalties. The Winterhawks’ lone power play marker was on a 5-on-3, scored by Jake Gricius.

Habscheid though the penalty count was a little lopsided in the visitor’s favour. He was both careful and passionate in his thoughts of the officiating, as conducted by Mike Campbell and Wade Pateman.  

“I don’t want to get fined here, but the penalties were… you know,” Habscheid said. “I have no problem letting my guys know when their penalties are bad, but I have no problem sticking up for them either.

“Those penalties, there were about three or four that were marginal. That slash to put us down 5-on-3; that was ridiculous. Then the one were [Jeremy] Masella pushed the guy and he just fell. If that’s the way the game’s going—wow. Those are not penalties.”

Montgomery 10 games away from tying record

Sean Montgomery played in his 320th career game with the Raiders and is now officially 10 games away from tying the Raiders games played record. That standard was set by Brett Novak, who played 330 games for the Raiders from 2000-06.

The earliest Montgomery can tie the games record is on Feb. 4 on the road against the Edmonton Oil Kings, and he could break it as early as Feb. 8 on the road against the Calgary Hitmen.

Montgomery has been very durable for the Raiders. The last game he missed was exactly two years ago. Montgomery has played 143 games straight since, including all 42 games this season.

Scoring Summary

First Period

1-0, Winterhawks, Seth Jarvis from Matthew Quigley, 6:57

1-1, Raiders, Cole Fonstad from Noah Gregor and Kaiden Guhle, 11:58

2-1, Raiders, Zack Hayes from Noah Gregor and Brett Leason, 15:40

2-2, Winterhawks, Jake Gricius from Cody Glass and Joachim Blichfeld (power play), 17:06

Second Period

No scoring.

Third Period

3-2, Raiders, Brett Leason from Aliaksei Protas and Zack Hayes, 8:52

4-2, Raiders, Sean Montgomery from Jeremy Masella (empty net), 18:38

No new boys

None of the three new players the Raiders picked up on trade deadline day played on Friday. Goaltender Boston Bilous dressed for the game, but only served as Ian Scott’s back-up. Loeden Schaufler and Bryce Bader were both scratched.

One more before the B.C. trip

The Raiders will play the Calgary Hitmen at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday. The Raiders will then embark on their B.C. road trip. They’ll play all five B.C. division teams, as well as the Central Division’s Kootenay Ice, before returning home on Feb. 1 against the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Raiders @ Prince George Cougars, Jan. 16

Raiders @ Kamloops Blazers, Jan. 18

Raiders @ Kelowna Rockets, Jan. 19

Raiders @ Victoria Royals, Jan. 22

Raiders @ Vancouver Giants, Jan. 24

Raiders @ Kootenay ICE, Jan. 26

 

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On Twitter: @jeff_paNOW

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