Saturday, 8 December 2018

Fonstad heats up for Raiders, scores twice in Saturday’s win

Cole Fonstad (#24) celebrates his second goal for the Raiders on Saturday.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Cole Fonstad is all about team success, but he still wants to play a bigger part in making the party great.
    The 18-year-old left-winger, who was selected in the fifth round and 128th overall in last June’s NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, has contributed to a special start this season season for the Prince Albert Raiders. With that said the Estevan, Sask., product hasn’t been the biggest driving offensive force that has helped the Raiders get voted into the top spot on the CHL’s Top 10 rankings.
    It appears Fonstad is starting to find his time to play a bigger part in contributing to the Raiders success.
    On Saturday night before a packed standing room crowd of 3,107 at the 2,580 seat Art Hauser Centre, Fonstad scored two key goals to power the Raiders past the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-2 in a WHL regular season tilt.
Cole Fonstad has points in his last six games for the Raiders.
    The win allowed the Raiders to improve their WHL leading record to a remarkable 28-1-0-1.
    Fonstad now has points in his last six straight games totalling four goals and four assists over that span of time.
    “I think that is my role is to contribute offensively,” said Fonstad, who has 10 goals and 13 assists appearing in all of the Raiders 30 games this season. “Obviously at the start of the year, it wasn’t going as well as I thought.
    “It is nice to kind of get back and start making plays again and feeling more confident with the puck and build some chemistry with my linemates.”
    In recent games, Fonstad has been played on the line with overage standout Noah Gregor at centre and talented 16-year-old rookie Ozzy Wiesblatt at right wing. Fonstad said he has found a groove playing with Gregor and Wiesblatt.
    “Once you get chemistry, you kind of know where guys are,” said Fonstad, who was selected by the Raiders in the first round and fifth overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. “Then, you can just get rolling.
    “It is a lot easier on the ice to kind of know where guys are.”
Cole Fonstad was selected in the NHL Entry draft by Montreal.
    When he wasn’t putting up points, Fonstad was pumped to see his teammates have success. He said he will always support and congratulate his teammates, when they do well.
    He was really excited to see how well 19-year-old right-winger Brett Leason has done in his third full season in the league. Leason had a pair of assists on Saturday, and he has netted at least one point in all 30 games the Raiders have played to this point in the campaign.
    The Calgary, Alta., product has obliterated his career highs in leading the WHL in scoring with 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points. Leason and Raiders star goaltender Ian Scott have been invited to the main selection camp for Canada’s world junior team, which starts Tuesday and runs through to Friday in Victoria, B.C.
Cole Fonstad controls the puck in the offensive zone.
    “We all knew Leas (Brett Leason) was a great player last year,” said Fonstad. “To see him come and how much he is producing this year, it is special to see.
    “It is pretty amazing for a guy to go unnoticed the last couple of years and just come into this year and take off like that. Obviously, we are really happy for him to go to the world junior camp. We think he is going to be great there.”
    As for Saturday’s game, the Wheat Kings withstood the Raiders initial push and opened the game’s scoring at the 14:18 mark of the first period. While working on the power play, Wheat Kings left-winger Linden McCorrister gathered a loose puck in front of the Raiders net and popped home his 10th tally of the season to give Brandon a 1-0 lead.
    At the start of the second, Brandon tried to clamp down on the host side with some tight checking.
Cole Fonstad, right, celebrates his first goal in Saturday’s game.
    With 5:29 to play in the second, the Raiders offence exploded scoring three times in a span of 89 seconds to go ahead 3-1.
    Fonstad started the surge sniping home a shot from the slot.
    Just 40 seconds later, fan favourite and power forward Kody McDonald knocked home a rebound from a shot taken by offensive defenceman Max Martin to put the Raiders ahead 2-1.
    Just 49 seconds after that tally, overage centre Sean Montgomery scored on the power play to complete the Prince Albert surge. Leason picked up an assist on Montgomery’s goal to ensure his point scoring streak to start the season stayed alive.
    Fonstad was pumped he was able spark his club scoring his team’s first goal.
Brett Leason has points in all of the Raiders 30 games this season.
    “It felt good,” said Fonstad. “We were taking some penalties there and kind of got away from our game.
    “It was good to kind of get the momentum back. I think it got some energy back. I think, when we are on our game or get some little momentum like that, we can score a lot of goals really fast.”
    The Wheat Kings gained some traction before the second frame ended, when star right-winger Luka Burzan scored 50 seconds after Montgomery’s marker to cut Prince Albert’s edge to 3-2.
    At the 1:56 mark of the third, Fonstad scored his second of the night firing home the rebound of a shot taken by Gregor to give the Raiders a 4-2 advantage.
    Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid was pleased to see Fonstad hit another gear and expects the third-year winger will have more big moments as the campaign moves on. 
Noah Gregor had three points for the Raiders on Saturday.
    Habscheid said it will make the Raiders that much more able to keep winning, if Fonstad keeps hitting a higher gear.
    “He is a big part of our team,” said Habscheid. “He is a big part of last year.
    “If he can step up and keep playing, that will help our depth and just make us more hard to defend against. Goal scorers score goals, and if they don’t, they get frustrated and they lose a little bit of confidence. He got a couple tonight, and that should help his confidence.”
    Brandon appeared to trim the Raiders edge to one goal later on in the third, but McCorrister had a goal disallowed because he grabbed the puck and chucked it into the Prince Albert goal on a net scramble.
    Gregor scored the Raiders final goal with 5:30 remaining in the third period to go along with two assists and a plus-four rating in the plus-minus department. The tally by the Beaumont, Alta., product was his 100th career WHL regular season goal.
    Scott turned away 39 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Raiders. Jiri Patera turned away 42 shots to take the setback in net for the Wheat Kings, who fell to 14-9-3-3.
Riley the Raider has fun with a young fan.
    Fonstad wants to keep his hot streak going, especially considering the Raiders could potentially be without Leason and Scott for some time if they make Canada’s world junior team.
    Both are slated to leave the Raiders for the Hockey Canada selection camp on Monday.
    “Obviously, those guys are huge parts of our team,” said Fonstad. “Scotty (Scott), he can win you a game.
    “He is the best goalie in the league by far. We feel that, and we’re lucky to have him. People are going to have to step up and fill their roles.
    “We’re just going to have to buckle down and get these wins.”
The Raiders salute the fans at the Art Hauser Centre.
    The Raiders return to action on Sunday, when they travel to Saskatoon to face the Blades (4 p.m., SaskTel Centre).

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