Raiders edge Wheat Kings 4-3


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Sloan Stanick scored twice as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders dealt a potential death blow to the playoff ambitions of the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday when they beat the hosts 4-3 in Western Hockey League action at Westoba Place on Friday.

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Sloan Stanick scored twice as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders dealt a potential death blow to the playoff ambitions of the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday when they beat the hosts 4-3 in Western Hockey League action at Westoba Place on Friday.

Ryder Ritchie and Carter Anderson also scored for Prince Albert (27-34-3-0), with Nate Danielson, Andrei Malyavin and Nolan Ritchie replying for Brandon (26-31-8-0) in front of a crowd of 3,725.

The eighth-place Calgary Hitmen were in action against the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a game that ended after deadline, and the ninth-place Swift Current Broncos were skating against the Red Deer Rebels. Brandon trails Calgary by two points and the Hitmen have two games in hand.

The problem the Wheat Kings is they have three games left against teams they’re a combined 0-8-5-0 against this season. The Wheat Kings visit the Saskatoon Blades tonight and finish the season with a home-and home with the Winnipeg Ice, with Friday’s game in Brandon and Saturday’s matchup in Winnipeg.

Brandon head coach and general manager Marty Murray said defensive breakdowns proved costly for his group.

“I think that’s the key to the game,” Murray said. “We gave up two breakaway goals in the first period and then a one-on-four in the third and a back check where a guy falls down and he ends up beating us back to the net. You take those things away and it was a pretty good game, but at the end of the night, we had four major breakdowns and they made us pay.”

Danielson, the team’s co-captain, said it was a tough night.

“Obviously it’s a disappointing loss,” Danielson said. “This is the most important game we’ve had so far this year so to not get the result we wanted was pretty disappointing.”

Prince Albert gained momentum after its first power play at the five-minute mark, and it paid off eight minutes nine seconds into the opening frame when the 16-year-old forward Ritchie was sent in on a breakaway on a stretch pass by Aiden Oiring and beat Brandon goalie Carson Bjarnason with a shot high to the blocker side.

Brandon nearly replied two minutes later when Wheat Kings forward Tony Wilson was sent in on a breakaway, but he missed the net and crashed heavily into Prince Albert goalie Tikhon Chaika, resulting in an animated discussion between the Belaruasian netminder and the officiating staff.

The Raiders extended their lead on their second power play when Stanick capitalized on a breakdown at the Brandon blue-line, deked on the ensuing breakaway and went low to the glove side.

Chaika was terrific after Brandon finally found its footing and began to press, denying several Wheat Kings chances late in the period.

It took just 39 seconds into the second period for Brandon to show some life. With the teams playing four-on-four, Danielson beat Prince Albert defenceman Justice Christensen wide off the rush, cut back to the net and slide the puck along the ice through Chaika’s legs to cut the Wheat Kings deficit to 2-1.

Midway through the period, the Wheat Kings pinned the Raiders in the zone, moved the puck around and did everything but score in three minutes of their best sustained pressure of the game. A measure of their dominance came on the shot clock, where they outshot Prince Albert 11-5 in the first 11 minutes of the middle frame.

However, Brandon failed to capitalize on a pair of power plays and the teams went to the dressing room with Prince Albert nursing a 2-1 lead.

The Wheat Kings had a spectacular shot on a tic-tac-toe play shorthanded in the first minute of the third period, but the puck went just wide. In a night of outstanding but missed opportunities, Ritchie had the next great chance 6:01 into the period when he was left all alone in front with the puck, but Chaika made a sensational glove save to keep his team in the lead.

Prince Albert regained the two-goal lead on a terrific play by Cole Peardon. He carried the puck deep into the Brandon zone, protected it from Wheat Kings defenders and then sent a no-look pass out front, where Anderson ripped it into the net.

Just 59 seconds later, Malyavin came down the wing on the rush and his wrist shot found its way under Chaika’s arm to bring the hosts back within a goal at 3-2.

The visitors sent the hosts back to the power play with eight minutes remaining, and Brandon once again pressed, but Chaika made several of his game’s 36 saves to preserve the lead.

Stanick seemed to put the game away with 2:23 remaining when he worked his way through four Brandon defenders and put the puck into the top corner.

“We gave up a lot of chances that they shouldn’t have had in the first place, breakaways and stuff like that,” Danielson said. “Also, it’s our fault. We had a lot of chances that we didn’t bury and that’s what it comes down to.”

The Wheat Kings pulled Bjarnason for the extra attacker after the gained possession and Ritchie scooped up a loose puck in the slot and scored with 90 seconds left. But there wasn’t a final miracle left, as Brandon failed to even get a great chance in the dying moments of the game.

“It was a big goal that Malyavin scored to get us back into it right after they got the third one,” Murray said. “They answered right back and then Ritch got us within one and we had the goalie out and an unfortunate won faceoff goes in between our guys at the point.

“The effort was there. We had lots of chances and lots of shots and has some opportunities to score and didn’t and they did on theirs.”

Brandon went 0-for-3 on the power play, with Prince Albert scoring once in four chances.

Prince Albert head coach Jeff Truitt said it was a good effort on an imperfect evening.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Truitt said. “Our first period was real good and then both teams kind of locked it down. They both played hard and gave up some chances. In the second period, I didn’t think we generated much and we were chasing the play quite bit, but give credit to our guys, they battled hard and found a way to win.”

ICINGS: Brandon skated without injured forward Brett Hyland (lower body, indefinite), Ben Thornton (upper body, day to day), Roger McQueen (lower body, day to day), plus healthy scratches Charlie Elick and Eastyn Mannix … Stanick’s 25 goals this season eclipsed the 24 goals the 19-year-old forward from Rapid City had in his first three seasons in the league with Prince Albert and the Regina Pats … Raiders forward Keaton Sorensen left the game late in the second period with a towel on his face after the net flew into him … Bjarnason made 17 saves for the Wheat Kings … Ritchie led the Wheat Kings with nine shots on net … The game took two hours, 21 minutes to play … In the faceoff circle, the teams knotted up at 26-26.


» Twitter: @PerryBergson

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