Prince Albert, SK – The Prince Albert Raiders (20-10-3-1) returned from the break and dropped a 3-2 game to the Saskatoon Blades (16-15-1-2) on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre.
Aliaksei Protas led the Raiders in his return to the lineup following his time with Belarus at the 2020 World Under-20 Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament with a goal and an assist. Spencer Moe also scored for the Raiders.
In the first, Ozzy Wiesblatt had a chance to open the scoring. He took a pass from Moe from behind the net and beat Nolan Maier, but his shot hit the crossbar and stayed out. Near the end of the opening period, Ilya Usau – also returning from representing Belarus – found Moe with a cross-ice pass. The Calgary product’s one-timer was denied by Maier.
The Raiders got on the board in the second period after Michael Horon drew a penalty as he danced through the Blades’ end. Just five seconds into the power play, Protas found Moe cutting to the net who redirected the pass into the empty side of the net for his 15th goal of the season at the 7:51 mark.
Just 14 seconds later, the Blades tied it up. Off a faceoff in the Raiders’ end, Riley McKay got the puck in the left circle and snapped a shot through traffic that beat Boston Bilous to make it a 1-1 game.
Thirty-five seconds after, Protas gave the Raiders the lead again. Maier tried to clear the zone, but the Washington Capitals prospect stopped it at the blueline. He made a move to the centre and put a shot on goal that was stopped, but Protas collected his own rebound and banged it in for his 19th of the year.
Bilous made a great save to keep it a 2-1 game near the end of the period. Chase Wouters dished it to Tristen Robins, who cut across the goal mouth. Bilous stuck with Robins and got his left pad out to deny the Blades forward.
Before the end of the period, the Blades were able tie it again. Colton Dach picked the puck at the left halfboards and skated towards the goal line. He fired a shot on goal from the bottom of the faceoff circle that got past Bilous to make it a 2-2 contest after 40 minutes.
The Raiders faced penalty trouble early in the third period, but were able to escape a two-men down scenario.
With 5:13 to play, the Blades took their first lead of the game. Wouters found McKay in the slot who was left alone. The Blades overager one-timed the shot by Bilous to give Saskatoon a 3-2 lead with his second of the game.
The Raiders pressed for the equalizer late in the game. Evan Herman cut in on goal and got a shot on Maier that was stopped. The rebound was in the crease and newly-acquired Matthew Culling jammed away, but was unable to get the puck over the line.
Late in the game, Wiesblatt toe-dragged around a sliding Blades defender, but his shot was turned aside by Maier. After he took the shot, Zach Huber came across the zone and hit Wiesblatt in the head. Huber was given a two-minute minor for checking to the head, but the Raiders were unable to capitalize on the late power play.
Bilous finished the game with 12 saves in the loss. Maier stopped 32 shots to get the win for the Blades.
The Raiders head to Saskatoon tomorrow night for a rematch with the Blades. Game time is 7 p.m. Catch the game on 900 CKBI with Trevor Redden or head to The Rock And Iron Sports Bar to watch.
The next Raiders’ home game is on Monday night when the Winnipeg ICE (20-13-1-0) visit the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop is 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Raiders Office and online here.