Prince Albert, SK – The Prince Albert Raiders (31-2-0-1) wrapped up the first half of the season with a 7-5 win over Swift Current Broncos (6-25-1-1) on Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre.
Noah Gregor and Justin Nachbaur each had a pair of goals to help the Raiders reach 63 points before the holiday break. Parker Kelly and Ozzy Wiesblatt had a goal and an assist each. Cole Fonstad, Kaiden Guhle, Kody McDonald, and Carson Miller all had two assists each.
At 4:48 of the first, Sean Montgomery scored the Teddy Bear Toss goal. Kelly stole the puck from behind the net and set up a cutting Montgomery for a one timer that sent the fur flying onto the ice at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Broncos tied the game with 6:14 to play in the opening frame. Cutting into the end, Ethan Regnier put a shot on net that was stopped by Donovan Buskey. However, the rebound ended up on the stick of Dawson Springer and the call-up from the Prince Albert Mintos made no mistake to tie the game.
Less than two minutes later, the Raiders regained the lead on the power play. McDonald’s initial shot was stopped, but Joel Hofer was unable to control the rebound. Nachbaur was stationed in front of the net and banged in the loose puck to snap a 15-game goalless drought.
Before the end of the first, the Broncos re-tied the game. Ian Briscoe and Ethan O’Rourke countered a Raiders’ rush with a two-on-one of their own. Briscoe set up O’Rourke, who beat a sprawling Buskey to send the game to the intermission tied 2-2.
The Broncos took control of the game with two goals in the first six minutes of the second. Joona Kiviniemi followed up a Connor Horning breakway and potted a rebound 2:14 into the period. Four minutes later, Matthew Culling was in the right place at the right time as pass was deflected by a Raiders defender right to the Regina product who put it into the empty net
That goal ended Buskey’s night. The Raiders netminder made six saves on 10 attempts before his night ended.
The change sparked the Raiders. Two minutes after the switch, Nachbaur and Miller worked a give-and-go from the corner leading to the Cross Lake, MB product’s ninth of the season.
Four minutes later, Wiesblatt converted on a power play. The rookie from Calgary stepped off the boards on the right wing and beat Hofer high on the far side to tie the game at 4-4.
Then, Gregor took over with two goals. With 3:46 to play in the second, Fonstad saucered a pass to the San Jose Sharks prospect who chipped it with one hand over Hofer to put the Raiders ahead.
Just before the end of the period, Gregor knocked down Martin’s stretch pass out of mid air, carried it around the net and beat Hofer on a wraparound to make it a 6-4 game after 40 minutes.
Early in the third, the Raiders ran into penalty trouble when they took their only two penalties of the game to set up a two-men down situation. The Broncos made the most of their chance as Alex Zawatsky beat Brett Balas from the short side to bring Swift Current back within one 3:31 into the period.
The Raiders put the game to bed on Kelly’s 15th of the year. The Ottawa Senators prospect won the offensive zone faceoff forward to the corner, lifted the stick of a Broncos defender, and finished a wraparound on Hofer to put the Raiders up 7-5.
In relief, Balas made seven saves on eight attempts to earn his first career WHL win in his first appearance. Hofer finished the game with 49 saves in a losing effort.
The Raiders are off for the holiday break and return to the ice on Thursday, December 27 in Saskatoon against the Blades at SaskTel Centre. The next Raiders’ home game is Friday, December 28 in the second leg of the home-and-home series with the Blades. Puck drop is 7 p.m. Tickets are available at raiderhockey.com and the Raider Office.
Half-season tickets are now available for a limited time. Stop by the Raider Office for more information. The packages are only available until Sunday, December 30.