Raiders drop first game in BC 6-4 to Blazers

Allen Douglas

The Prince Albert Raiders gave the Memorial Cup host Kamloops Blazers all they could handle on Friday night. However, a third period 4-4 tie was broken in the third period as the Blazers came away with a 6-4 victory on home ice.

The Blazers got off to a quick start in the first period, scoring twice in the opening 5:13 of the game to go up 2-0. Connor Levis opened the scoring on Kamloops’ opening powerplay of the game at the 2:59 mark of the game, while Ryan Hofer added another goal at the 5:13 mark to double the lead to 2-0.

The Raiders came back from there, scoring three unanswered goals to close out the first period. Eric Johnston fired a one timer from the point after taking a pass from Sloan Stanick. The shot was stopped by Dylan Ernst, but went off of a Blazers defender and in to make it a 2-1 game with Johnston’s second goal of the season at the 7:39 mark.

Carter Anderson tied things up with 3:55 left in the first, as the Raider forward fired a one timer from the left circle past Ernst. Then with 2:51 left in the opening frame, it was the Raiders’ turn to score on the man advantage. After Keaton Sorensen won the offensive zone faceoff, Landon Kosior fired a seeing eye shot from the point, beating traffic and Ernst in front to put Prince Albert up 3-2.

After surrendering two quick goals to start the game, the Raiders roared back to take a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes, while trailing in shots 13-7.

Near the midway mark of the second period, the Blazers tied things up again, and it was a shorthanded goal that levelled the score. After Tikhon Chaika made a glove save, the rebound came right into the crease, and Hofer jumped all over the loose puck, scoring his second of the night to make it a 3-3 game.

However just 17 seconds later on the same Raiders man advantage, Prince Albert answered with a powerplay goal. Leading a rush into the zone, Sloan Stanick threw a pass in front for Brayden Dube, who was able to tap one home for his fourth goal of the season. Giving up the shorthanded goal did not slow the Raiders down much, as they retook the lead by a 4-3 score.

The Blazers didn’t go away quietly in the middle frame, scoring with 2:49 to go. After Hofer won a faceoff in the offensive zone, Dylan Kuefler gathered the puck. Wasting no time, Kuefler fired a laser that beat Chaika far side past the blocker. His 25th of the season tied things up again at 4-4.

In what was turning into a barn burner in Kamloops, the 4-4 tie was brought into the third period, with the Blazers leading 29-18 in shots.

At the 8:47 mark of the third period, Hofer cashed in with his third goal of the night to give the Blazers a 5-4 lead, and they didn’t look back from there. Caeden Bankier also scored with 5:24 left in the third to make it a 6-4 game, which ended up being the final.

Tikhon Chaika stopped 33 of 39 Kamloops shots in the loss for Prince Albert, as the Raiders fell to 19-26-3-0 on the season.

The green and gold wrap up their BC Division swing tomorrow night in Kelowna. Puck drop is 9pm Sask time.

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