DUBNetwork Game of the Night: Prince Albert Raiders (27-14-5-4) @ Medicine Hat Tigers (32-15-1-1) 7:00 PM
Three points separate the two teams in the overall standings. Being that the teams are from different divisions, the Raiders are leading the East Division by four points over the Winnipeg ICE, and the Tigers are third in the Central division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The Tigers have taken all three previous meetings between the two teams. Most recently, when they met in Prince Albert, Medicine Hat needed a shootout to get the win 4-3.
Medicine Hat takes the cake when it comes to offense in the WHL. They lead the league with 213 goals in 49 games, good for 4.35 goals per game. The Raiders score more than a full goal less per game at 3.32.
Much of this can be attributed to having two scorers in the top-10 of the WHL. James Hamblin has been trading spots with Adam Beckman for much of the last two months. He currently sits second overall with 77 points on 30 goals and 47 assists. Brett Kemp isn’t too far behind, in ninth overall with 23 goals and 37 assists for 60 points. Ryan Chyzowski rounds out the heavy scoring for the Tigers with 23 goals and 27 assists.
Prince Albert has some offensive weapons as well, led by none other than import Aliaksei Protas. He’s 11th overall in point scoring with 22 goals and 37 assists. Draft eligible Ozzy Wiesblatt is second in team scoring with 20 goals and 34 assists. 20-year-old Brayden Watts has scored at just under a point-per-game pace; he’s got 21 goals and 25 assists in 47 games.
Another reason the Tigers are leading scoring in the WHL is their defense. Medicine Hat has two of the top-12 highest point scorers in the league this season. 18-year-old Daniel Baker is having a breakout season, scoring more than double the points he had last season. He has 13 goals and 22 assists in 48 games from the blue line. Dylan Plouffe has equaled last season’s point total with eight goals and 27 assists.
Prince Albert has a young tandem leading the way in scoring from the back end. NHL draft eligible Kaiden Guhle has impressed while piling up the points. He has nine goals and 25 assists. Rookie defenseman Landon Kosior has been impressive this season. He’s in the top 50 in defensemen scoring with five goals and 14 assists.
You’ve got to think that, with Max Paddock being brought in from Regina, the Prince Albert Raiders are going to ride him as much as possible through the end of the season. He’s played well since being acquired, with a record of 5-0-0-2 in seven games as a Raider. Overall he is 15-13-3-4 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
Medicine Hat has been able to play both of the goaltenders this season and both have similar numbers. Garin Bjorklund has the better record of the two goalies. He is 17-3-0-0 with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in 22 games this season.
The Tigers are missing rookie sensation Cole Sillinger, who is listed as out 1-to-2 weeks with an upper-body injury. They are also without the services of Elijah Brown, listed as out 7-to-10 days with a lower-body injury. Prince Albert does not have any players on the most recent weekly report as injured.
The Tigers power play is potent, currently second in the WHL at 26.0%. The Raiders are 11th at 20.7%. Penalty killing is another story for the Tigers, who are 14th, killing just 78.0% of their penalties. Prince Albert is sixth at 82.1%.
In other WHL action:
Regina Pats (15-16-3-2) @ Saskatoon Blades (25-20-2-2)
This is just the second meeting between the division rivals this season. Regina took the first contest. The Blades are in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, trailing behind Calgary by five points for the first wild card position and four points back of the Brandon Wheat Kings for third in the East Division.
Moose Jaw Warriors (12-32-2-0) @ Winnipeg ICE (29-19-1-0)
Both teams are struggling of late. Moose Jaw has lost four in a row and Winnipeg has lost its last three. The ICE are now four points back of Prince Albert for the East Division lead. Moose Jaw is 28 points back of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Lethbridge Hurricanes (30-12-2-5) @ Red Deer Rebels (17-26-2-3)
The Hurricanes are battling with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the right to host the first round of the playoffs. They have 67 points; Medicine Hat has 66. Red Deer has fallen 15 points off the pace for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Lethbridge has points in eight of its last 10 games.
Seattle Thunderbirds (20-23-3-2) @ Prince George Cougars (15-26-3-4)
The Cougars are enjoying some of their best hockey of the season. One-third of their wins overall have come in the last 10 games. They sit eight points back of the Thunderbirds for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Seattle has points in seven of its last 10 games and is just four points behind the Kelowna Rockets for the first wild card spot.