The Prince Albert Raiders continue to find new ways to thwart the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The latest was a three-goal second period, including markers eight seconds apart, that led the Raiders to a 4-3 Western Hockey League victory over the Wheat Kings Friday at Westman Place, running Prince Albert’s record to 4-0 against Brandon this season.
The Wheat Kings (22-17-4-0) had a chance to put a little more daylight between themselves and the Raiders (22-18-2-0), but instead P.A. moved to within two points of sixth-place Brandon in the Eastern Conference, with the teams to meet again tonight at Westman Place.
"I thought we played really well in the first and third period," said John Quenneville, who scored one of the Brandon goals. "The second period wasn’t our period, and it cost us."
Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist, while Brandonite Carson Perreaux and Jayden Hart also found the net for the Raiders. Prince Albert goalie Cole Cheveldave was sharp in a 36-save performance.
Ryan Pulock had a goal and an assist, while Jens Meilleur rounded out the Brandon scoring.
The Raiders proved that even on the road you can get a home-team bounce as Graeme Craig’s dump-in rebounded off an end gate, catching Wheat Kings goalie Curtis Honey off guard by coming straight out to Hart, who simply had to deposit the puck into the empty net only 37 seconds into the game.
Quenneville tied the score midway through the frame, beating Cheveldave high to the blocker side off the rush.
Goals at the 2:02 and the 2:10 mark of the second period put the Wheat Kings on their heels. Draisaitl went to the net and tapped in a hard Collin Valcourt pass to put Prince Albert up 2-1. Honey was caught out of his net again as Perreaux cashed in for his fourth goal against the Wheat Kings this season.
That was it for Honey, who was replaced by Jordan Papirny after stopping only 10-of-13 shots.
Stewart tacked on one more for the Raiders before the end of the second period.
The Wheat Kings had their chances in the frame, but were snakebitten around the net. Peter Quenneville missed high on a glorious chance on a rebound, Pulock wired a shot off the crossbar, and Jayce Hawryluk had a golden opportunity on a power play, but was denied by a sprawling Cheveldave.
"Scoring chances in the second period were pretty close to dead even, actually," Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said.
"We could have been a little bit better on offence, but certainly we needed to be better on defence. You can’t give up three goals in a period and expect success."
The Wheat Kings mounted a furious charge in the third period, outshooting the Raiders 26-2. But they only managed to beat Cheveldave twice, with Meilleur charging off the boards to score through the five-hole early in the frame, while Pulock found the net through traffic with only five seconds left.
Brandon also had three chances on the power play in the final frame, but came up empty, part of an 0-for-5 night with the man advantage.
"We needed to score on our power play in the third, and that would have helped us as well, which didn’t happen." said McCrimmon, whose team killed off Prince Albert’s only power play. "But I have no fault with our guys’ effort in the third period."
Papirny took the loss despite stopping 12 of the 13 shots he faced.
The rematch starts tonight at 7:30 at Westman Place.