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Raiders Clinch East Division, Eastern Conference With Win Over Wheat Kings

Lucas Chudleigh/Apollo Multimedia

Prince Albert, SK – The Eastern Conference’s path to the Ed Chynoweth Cup will go through Prince Albert.

On Saturday, the Prince Albert Raiders (49-8-1-2) downed the Brandon Wheat Kings (29-23-3-4) 7-1 to clinch the top spot in the East Division for the fourth time in franchise history and first time since the 1998-99 season.

The win also locked in the Raiders as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The line of Cole Fonstad (1g-3a), Noah Gregor (2g-1a), and Ozzy Wiesblatt (1g-2a) paced the Raiders offensively on the evening as they combined for four goals and six assists in the win. Dante Hannoun also had a multi-point game with two assists.

Gregor opened the scoring 2:37 into the contest. Wiesblatt took a hit to spring the San Jose Sharks prospect on a breakaway. Gregor snapped a shot past Jiri Patera for his 36th of the season to make it 1-0.

Midway through the period, the line connected again. Wiesblatt dug the rebound away from Patera at side of the goal. The rookie’s first attempt was stopped, but he collected the rebound on the goal line and tucked it inside the post for his 15th of the year with 8:27 to play in the first.

Less than a minute later, the Wheat Kings responded. Vincent Iorio’s shot from the point off a faceoff win trickled through Ian Scott and past the goal line to make it 2-1 after 20 minutes.

At the 4:27 mark of the second, the Raiders restored their two-goal lead. Brayden Pachal’s shot was turned aside by Patera, but the rebound found the stick of Jakob Brook who banged it into the empty net for the sixth of his rookie season.

The Raiders struck again on a delayed penalty call. Gregor entered the zone on a pass from Wiesblatt, danced around Zach Wytinck, and went forehand-backhand to beat Patera for the second time on the night at the 12:04 mark of the second. It was Gregor’s 37th of the season.

Fourteen seconds later, the Raiders made it 5-1. After Patera stopped Hannoun point-blank, the Delta, BC product scooped up the rebound and found Parker Kelly at the faceoff circle. The Ottawa Senators prospect’s wrist shot got past Patera for his 30th goal of the season.

The goal ended Patera’s evening. The Vegas Golden Knights prospect made 25 saves in just more than 32 minutes of action.

Midway through the third, the Raiders added another on the power play. Hannoun’s point shot was deflected in front by Sean Montgomery for the Calgarian’s 27th of the year with 8:07 to play.

Three minutes later, the Fonstad-Gregor-Wiesblatt line connected one final time on the night. Gregor sprung Fonstad on a breakaway. The Montreal Canadiens prospect faked a shot, then went backhand-forehand to beat Ethan Kruger for his 27th goal this season to wrap up the scoring at 7-1.

Scott wasn’t tested much in the game, but stopped Ridly Greig after outwaiting the Wheat Kings forward and not giving him any room to shoot. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect finished with 15 saves.

In relief, Kruger stopped 16 shots for the Wheat Kings.

The Raiders return to the ice on Wednesday night when the Lethbridge Hurricanes (32-17-5-5) visit Prince Albert for the final meeting of the year. Puck drop is 7 p.m. Tickets are available at raiderhockey.com and the Raider Office.

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