Friday, 25 March 2016

Warriors down Raiders in thriller

Warriors F Noah Gregor scores on Raiders G Rylan Parenteau.
    PRINCE ALBERT - If all games between the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince Albert Raiders are going to be as good as this one, here is hoping their opening round WHL playoff series goes the distance to Game 7.
    The Warriors downed the Raiders 3-2 in a thriller in Game 1 on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre before 2,782 spectators. Both teams engaged in frantic action up and down the ice. Shaw television had to be thanking their lucky stars they decided to broadcast that contest for its entertainment value, and the WHL head office staffers had to felt they hit a jackpot.
    Goaltenders Rylan Parenteau of the Raiders and Zach Sawchenko of the Warriors each stood on their heads making 36 and 32 stops respectively. The consensus among NHL scouts has been that the quality of goaltending on average had been down in the WHL this season, but you wouldn’t have known that the way the series opener between Moose Jaw and Prince Albert played out.
    After a scoreless opening frame, the Raiders drew first blood in Friday’s clash at the 8:17 mark of the second, when Reid Gardiner blasted home a shot on the power play to give the hosts a 1-0 edge.
    The Warriors countered just seconds into their first power play at the 14:17 mark of the frame on a tally from star captain Brayden Point. The Art Hauser Centre crowd that had worked their way into a frenzy had the wind momentarily knocked out of their sails.
    Moose Jaw dealt the home side faithful two more gut shots going ahead 3-1 in the third.
Jesse Lees missed a late chance to tie the game.
    First, Point and linemate Noah Gregor broke in on a two-on-one break, and Point fed a perfect pass across the face of the Raiders goal to Gregor, who knocked home the puck past Parenteau.
    At the 13:51 mark, Gregor potted his second goal of the night on a turnaround shot. The Warriors first unit of Point, Gregor and Dryden Hunt came out against a tired Raiders unit after an icing call on the offensive faceoff that eventually resulted in the third goal. Prince Albert elected to not use a timeout.
    The Warriors weren’t able to enjoy the two-goal cushion for long. Just 34 seconds after they went ahead 3-1, Raiders right-winger Austin Glover knocked home a shot from the left side of the Moose Jaw goal to cut the visitors edge to 3-2. The tally reignited the gathering at the Art Hauser Centre.
    The Raiders proceeded to make a big push in the game’s final moments. With under two minutes to play, overage defenceman Jesse Lees had a golden chance to pick up the equalizer down low, but he fired a shot over top of the Warriors goal.
    In the final seconds of the third, the puck slid over to Gardiner down in the left slot of the Moose Jaw zone, but the veteran, who netted 43 goals in the regular season, fanned on his shot.
Simon Stransky (#23) steals the puck from Dryden Hunt (#29)
    The Warriors were elated at the end of the game to skate away with a victory. The only drawback for them in the contest was losing Russian forward Nikita Popugaev to a right leg injury after he received a hit along the boards in the first period.
    Both clubs also picked up the physical play throwing a handful of good hits each.
    While Prince Albert supports left disappointed about the end result on the scoreboard, Game 1 of the Raiders series against the Warriors was a hit.
    And you know what the best part is? Both teams go at it again in Game 2 on Saturday at 7 p.m. local time at the Art Hauser Centre.

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