Stanick’s two tallies leads Raiders past Wheat Kings 4-3

The Prince Albert Raiders kicked off their three game Manitoba road swing with a 4-3 win in Brandon on Friday night. From highlight reel goals to highlight reel saves, it was an entertaining matchup between two teams desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Raiders took a 2-0 lead after the first period, thanks to a pair of breakaway goals. Ryder Ritchie opened the scoring at the 8:09 mark of the opening frame. Taking a lead pass from Aiden Oiring, Ritchie flew down the ice with just the goalie to beat. Ritchie deked and roofed a backhand shot over Carson Bjarnason, scoring his 20th goal of the season, while registering his 50th point on the campaign to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.

With 5:29 left in the period, the Raiders doubled their lead on a powerplay. Landon Kosior sprung Sloan Stanick on a mini breakaway, and he made no mistake. In tight, Stanick buried his 25th goal of the season to give the green and gold a 2-0 lead. Also getting an assist on the goal was Tikhon Chaika, who registered his first career WHL point. Prince Albert took that 2-0 lead into the second period, while leading 10-9 in shots.

The Wheat Kings cut into that lead less than a minute into the middle frame. Nate Danielson used his speed to burn past Justice Christensen, and worked his way in on Chaika. Danielson let a low shot go that beat the Raiders’ netminder five hole, and his 33rd goal of the season made it a 2-1 game just 39 seconds into the period.

While the first period was dominated mostly by the Raiders, the Wheaties controlled most of the play in the second period, as they threw 16 shots on net compared to seven for Prince Albert. Aside from his blemish in the opening minute of the middle period, Chaika stood tall in goal, stopping 15 shots, including some good opportunities for Brandon on separate powerplays. At the other end, Bjarnason stopped all seven shots he faced in the Brandon goal.

Some jawing between Raider captain Evan Herman and Dawson Pasternak of the Wheat Kings resulted in the gloves being dropped between the two forwards as the second period came to an end. Herman ended up taking Pasternak down, but neither player was able to lay any serious blows on the other. Both were sent to the penalty box for five minutes to start the third period, with Pasternak being handed an additional two minutes for instigating.

Four goals were scored in the third period, with the two clubs alternating turns, starting off with Carter Anderson for the Raiders. Ryder Ritchie sprung Cole Peardon into the Wheat Kings zone, and Peardon made one of the best passes of the season, sending it off his backhand from the goal line in front. Anderson took the pass on the tape and released a quick shot past Bjarnason, which gave the Raiders a 3-1 lead on their first shot of the frame.

Brandon answered back less than a minute later, however, as Andrei Malyavin scored to make it a 3-2 Raider lead.

For the second time in the contest, Stanick scored for Prince Albert on an outstanding individual effort. From the defensive zone, Stanick led a rush into Brandon territory, deking around four Wheat King players. Streaking past the defencemen, Stanick cut in and sniped a perfect shot home, giving the Raiders a 4-2 lead with 2:23 left in the third.

Just like earlier in the frame, Brandon responded again less than a minute later. Nolan Ritchie found some space to fire home his 27th goal of the season to make it a 4-3 game with 1:30 left on the clock.

A timeout and an empty net proved to be unsuccessful for the Wheat Kings, as Prince Albert held on for a 4-3 win, playing a little spoiler on Brandon’s playoff hopes.

It was another solid night between the pipes for Chaika, who stopped 36 of 39 Brandon shots, receiving first star honours.

Prince Albert is back in action on Saturday night in Winnipeg. Puck drop is 6pm Sask time.

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