Andy Devlin

WHL recap (part one): Rassell nets 2 in Tigers victory; Raiders get key win

Medicine Hat 5 @Edmonton 2

Mark Rassell was sitting on 99 career WHL goals for four games. Since he got to 99 by scoring in three straight, it could have been that he was putting some added pressure on himself to hit that mark. He hit it in his fifth game sitting at 99 last weekend and the pressure was off. That was very clear on Tuesday morning/afternoon as he netted two goals off of deflections and led his Medicine Hat Tigers (32-24-8-0) to a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings (18-37-6-2) during their matinee tilt

The Tigers opened the scoring in this early-start game with a marker from Rassell. Medicine Hat’s captain flipped his stick to it’s backhand and redirected a low shot from Dylan MacPherson for his 47th this year.

The Oil Kings then tied the game up with 4:54 left in the first. After Wyatt McLeod had his shot blocked, he fed Trey Fix-Wolansky in the high slot and Fix-Wolansky wired a hard shot by Bullion’s glove and into the top corner.

The Tigers took the lead back with 2:01 left in the opening frame. Elijah Brown and Gary Haden won a puck battle over to Boston Bilous’ right and Haden fed an open Jaeger White for the 2-1 lead off of White’s ninth goal this year.

In the second, Edmonton used a power play given to them after David Quenneville took a holding penalty to tie the game up again. 16-year-old d-man Matthew Robertson drove at the Tigers defense and then fed Carter Souch below the face off circle. Souch then picked the near-side corner on Bullion, beating him blocker side for his third goal this year.

Just like twice before, the Tigers bounced back and retook the lead. After Davis Murray and Trevor Longo dropped the gloves and tangled, Ryan Jevne notched his 18th to give his team the 3-2 lead.

Instead of Edmonton tying the game up again, the Tigers scored again just 27 seconds later. Another low shot from MacPherson at the point, was deflected by the long-reaching stick of Rassell and skittered across the ice, before beating Bilous inside the far post.

16-year-old rookie Josh Williams added a power play goal early in the third off some strong work by Brown and Hayden Ostir in front and made this a 5-2 game. That would be the final.

Bullion turned away 34 of 36 in the win, in his eighth straight start since Jordan Hollett was injured during a game with Vancouver. He is 6-2 in that span.

The Oil Kings have now dropped five straight.

The Tigers have clinched a playoff birth in the Central Division bracket and are just three points from clinching home-ice in the first round.

The Oil Kings now host Calgary on Friday, while the Tigers next play when they host Red Deer on Saturday.

Prince Albert 6 Brandon 2

Just over a week ago, the  Prince Albert Raiders (27-25-9-2) dropped two straight divisional games and found themselves falling behind the Saskatoon Blades for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

That has all changed over the past four games. The Raiders took all three games on a trip through Alberta and then came back home Tuesday and beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings (33-25-3-2) 6-2.

Curtis Miske led the way for the Raiders with three points, while Vojtech Budik and Cole Fonstad each added two.

The Raiders now sit tied with the Blades for the second wild card spot with nine games left for each team.

They both also sit only six points behind Brandon, who also has played 63 games.

Brandon got on board first as a bullet of an outlet pass by Chase Hartje was tipped to an onrushing Ty Lewis by Evan Weinger. Lewis then burst in on a breakaway and beat Prince Albert goalie Ian Scott on the far, blocker side.

Then with 3:24 left in the first, Brett Leason scooped up a rebound in front of his own net and started a three-on-one rush the other way. Parker Kelly got the puck across for a Kody McDonald one-timer and a nice response after Brandon’s goal.

3:10 later, on a power play Regan Nagy drew the defense and dropped a pass over to Curtis Miske, who then found Vojtech Budik for a one-timer. Logan Thompson could not get over in time in the Brandon net and Budik had his 11th this year. This gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead with only 14 seconds left in the frame.

A Brayden Pachal blocked shot early in the second helped set up a Cole Fonstad goal, giving the Raiders a 3-1 lead before the second period was two minutes old.

The line of Lewis, Weinger and Connor Gutenberg helped the Wheat Kings respond 3:13 later, Gutenberg wired a pass over to Lewis on the back post on the rush, for Lewis’ second of the game. He had struck the post on his previous trip up the ice.

The Wheaties had a great chance to knot the game before the end of the second, thanks to a penalty by Pachal, but they were unable to beat Scott.

That would be unfortunate for them as the Raiders scored not long after killing the penalty and sent this one to the third, with a 4-2 lead.

Fonstad corralled a pass in a similar spot to where he scored his goal and this time dealt to a driving Curtis Miske, who beat Thompson for his 22nd goal this year.

Things would get worse in the third right away for Brandon. Zack Hayes threaded the needle with a zone entry pass to Jordy Stallard on the rush and the overage sniper drilled a shot by Thompson just 25 seconds into the third. The goal was his 40th this year and gave his squad a 5-2 lead.

Pachal then appeared to score an odd one later in the third. His dump in along the boards from center ice, bounced off the skates of linesman Jordan Carriere and into the net that Thompson had left to play the dump in. The goal was immediately waved off.

Moments later, P.A. did get their sixth goal as Sergei Sapego teed up a shot for Max Martin and the d-man blew a one-timer by Thompson.

Scott got the win, stopping 21 of 23, while Thompson turned away 37 of 3.

The Wheat Kings now head home to host the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday, while the Raiders play a road game in Swift Current that same night.

 

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