It was a position they were never supposed to be in. The Prince Albert Raiders found themselves down in the third round series with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Edmonton won a game at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert and then won the next game at Rogers Place.
Uncharacteristically, the Raiders lost 5-1 to the Oil Kings and they needed to dig deep to tie the series. Head coach Marc Habscheid had the remedy.“We just let them watch last night’s game this morning after breakfast and just asked them after at the pre-game meal what they thought,” Habscheid told Jeff D’Andrea of PANow.com. “They’re smart. So they just had enough. The Raiders are back.”
The first period was a battle between the two teams as they fought tooth and nail for the first goal. Neither goaltender saw much rubber as time in the offensive zone was very limited. The only real difference in the period was the minor penalty taken by Andrei Pavlenko of the Oil Kings.
The Raiders staked themselves to a 9-6 shot advantage through 20 minutes.
Prince Albert got into a little bit of penalty trouble to start the second period, but the penalty killers as well as Ian Scott were up to the task of keeping the puck out of their net. In fact they did such a good job of it, it lead to the team’s first goal on the night.
A hard working effort from Dante Hannoun deep in Oil Kings territory created a chance for the Raiders just seconds after they killed off their second penalty of the period.
Leason swiped the puck in the corner and worked his way towards the front of the net and beat Dylan Myskiw with a shot through his five-hole. It was Leason’s first goal of the series and first since he scored 19 days before against the Saskatoon Blades.
The fourth goal of the playoffs for Leason gave the Raiders the much needed 1-0 lead.
That’s also how the middle frame ended.
Noah Gregor was dangerous all night, stealing pucks in Oil Kings territory and creating chances. His best of the night came early in the third period and gave the Raiders a two goal lead.
Ozzy Wiesblatt found the puck behind the Oil Kings net with 2:13 off the clock in the final period. He spotted Gregor open in front of the net and his pass was timed perfectly. Gregor one-timed the puck behind Myskiw and his sixth goal of the playoffs was the eventual game winner.
“I thought we had the first guy in pretty hard last night, (Tuesday) but we didn’t have that second layer and that second guy helping out,” Gregor said on the Raiders’ forecheck. “On our two goals, we had the second guy and he was able to find a guy in the slot and he was able to bury.”
It wasn’t all Raiders though as the Oil Kings continued to press for goals while time wound down on the night’s action.
With a little over six minutes to go, Wyatt McLeod got the Oil Kings to within one.
On a hard forecheck, Quinn Benjafield swiped the puck from the Raiders defense and passed the puck back to McLeod at the point. His one-time effort sailed by Ian Scott. It was his fourth goal of the playoffs.
It was not enough though as Ian Scott shut the door the rest of the way despite heavy pressure from the Oil Kings offense, especially in the final 1:39 of the period when Myskiw was pulled for the extra attacker.
“My message to (the team) was we weren’t very good tonight,” head coach Brad Lauer told OilKings.ca. “But we were still right there at the end. If we bring our best game we’ll be fine.”
“I’m not sure if it’s physicality (that needs to change),” said defenceman Parker Gavlas. “It’s just our game plan. We didn’t really do a whole lot of that tonight.”
The Oil Kings know they have to put in the work and that includes another win at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.
“Did we think we were going to win three, four in row against these guys? Probably not,” said Lauer. “We missed the opportunity to take advantage of the series so we have to go back there and get another win.”
Just Notes… The three stars were Gregor, Scott and Myskiw. Both teams were unsuccessful on the power play, Edmonton was 0-for-3 while Prince Albert was 0-for-2. Brett Leason had 5 shots for the Raiders while Trey Fix-Wolansky shot 4 times for the Oil Kings. Faceoffs were once again pretty even Edmonton won 32 of 60 faceoffs (53.3%). The series shifts to Prince Albert on Friday for Game 5.