Saturday, 2 February 2019

Leason’s late game magic delivers Raiders hard fought 4-3 win over Warriors

The Raiders celebrate Brett Leason's winning goal on Saturday.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Brett Leason stepped up in a prime time moment to power his Prince Albert Raiders past a red hot foe.
    On Saturday night before a standing room crowd of 2,630 spectators at the 2,580 Art Hauser Centre, the Raiders held a 3-2 lead on their WHL East Division rivals the Moose Jaw Warriors late in the third period of a regular season encounter. With 4:15 remaining in the third period, Warriors star left-winger Justin Almeida scored on the tail end of a power play to even things up at 3-3.
    It appeared the Warriors, who had won their last four straight and picked up standings points in their last eight games, had the momentum to rally for the win.
    At that point, Leason stepped up to play the role of hero for the host side.
Brett Leason came through with a clutch winner for the Raiders.
    With 2:25 remaining in the third, Leason took a beauty setup pass in the right slot from overage centre Noah Gregor and drove home the winning goal to give the Raiders a 4-3 victory. Leason’s winner allowed the Raiders to soften the sting of a 6-3 setback taken at the Art Hauser Centre against the Central Division leading Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night.
    “It was great timing for sure,” said Leason, who leads the Raiders in scoring with 32 goals and 43 assists for 75 points. “Gregor made a great pass to me.
    “We’ve been battling back and forth all game. They tie it up, and we pop back right ahead. It was nice to get that relief in the last few minutes.”
    The win allowed the Raiders to improve their WHL leading record to 42-7-0-2. 
Justin Almeida had a late third period equalizer for the Warriors.
    While the wins are still coming for the Raiders, they have experienced a few more valleys for about the last month. Head coach Marc Habscheid was pleased to see Leason come through in the clutch.
    “It was obviously a big goal,” said Habscheid. “Wins aren’t coming easy right now.
    “The game is not coming easy. We’re not winning 7-1. We played a good team last night and didn’t play great.
    “We played a good team tonight and played much better. I thought we deserved the win for sure.”
    The first two periods of Saturday’s game swung back and forth.
    At the 4:34 mark of the opening frame, Raiders star left-winger Cole Fonstad wired home his 21st goal of the season from the front of the Moose Jaw net to give the host side a 1-0 lead.
    The Warriors evened things up with 19.1 seconds remaining in the first period, when captain Josh Brook slipped home a bad angle goal on the power play to force a 1-1 score.
Cole Fonstad had the Raiders first goal on Saturday.
    Prince Albert jumped back in front 2-1 at the 4:50 mark of the second, when Raiders overage centre Sean Montgomery tipped home an off-speed point shot from captain Brayden Pachal.
    Moose Jaw forced a 2-2 tie scoring on the power play at the 15:31 mark of the second when right-winger Brayden Tracey, who is having a stellar 17-year-old rookie season, converted a backdoor feed from Brook. The tally was Tracey’s 23rd goal and 52nd point of the campaign.
    Before the second period ended, the Raiders jumped back out in front 3-2 when rookie defenceman Kaiden Guhle’s point drive found the back of the Warriors goal.
    “They bring it every time we play,” said Leason. “We just have to stick to the system and play as quick as we can.
    “We need to be a little gritty at times against them too.”
    On the power-play chance where the Warriors tied the game in the third, they worked with a two-man advantage for 1:20. After the two-man advantage ended, they ultimately scored with seven seconds remaining on the leftover one-man advantage.
Jett Woo had three assists for the Warriors on Saturday.
    That set the stage for Leason to get the winner moments later.
    “After the last couple of weeks and how we’ve been struggling a little bit, I think that was a huge character win for us,” said Raiders star netminder Ian Scott. “It was something that we can compare a lot to like a playoff game.
    “They are a good team. We know we are going to be up for a battle, when we play those guys. It is just who wants it more when we come to those games.”
    Scott made 28 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Raiders. Brodan Salmond turned away 31 shots to take the setback in net for the Warriors (28-12-6-2).
    Defenceman Jett Woo had assists on all three of Moose Jaw’s goals.
    For Scott, Saturday’s game was a bounce back one after being pulled in the third period of Friday’s loss to the Oil Kings. The Calgary, Alta., product thought he competed harder in Saturday’s game than he did on Friday night.
    “I think it was just the battling, staying with it,” said Scott. “You’re going to have nights where you fight it like last night, you know rough patches.
Ian Scott made 28 saves in goal for the Raiders on Saturday.
    “As long as you keep working hard, and just keep in the right mindset it will get better.”
    The rivalry the two sides built from the Warriors winning a tough seven game first round series in last year’s WHL playoffs showed through at the end of Saturday’s clash.
    After time expired in the third period, Brook slew footed Raiders import defenceman Sergei Sapego. As the Warriors captain was being led away from Sapego by the officials, a scrum ensued when Raiders right-winger Justin Nachbaur tried to get at Brook.
    Nachbaur ended up getting tangled up with Warriors centre Tristin Langan.
    When the dust settled, Nachbaur was given a fighting major and a game misconduct. Langan was assessed a minor penalty for leaving the penalty box, a fighting major and a game misconduct. He was in the penalty box after taking a checking from behind minor penalty with 67 seconds remaining in the third.
Sean Montgomery had the Raiders second goal on Saturday.
    Brook didn’t receive any infractions at the end of the contest.
    The WHL office will likely review what happened at the end of Saturday’s contest for possible further discipline.
    With the Raiders being rated first in the CHL’s Top 10 rankings, Habscheid expects his Raiders will be involved in encounters that were similar in intensity to Saturday’s game going forward.
    “I think everyone who plays us is obviously treating it like a Game 7 to beat us,” said Habscheid. “In the end, that is going to make us better.
    “If we don’t have our A-game, then we lose. Tonight, we played a team that was on a roll. They were on a winning streak.
    “We deserved the win. Their power play was good. That is where they made us pay, but five-on-five, I thought we were real good tonight.”
    The Raiders return to action when they travel to Edmonton to face the Oil Kings at 7 p.m. Edmonton time at Rogers Place.
Josh Brook (#2) skates away after slew footing Sergei Sapego.
    Saturday’s contest marked the second time the Raiders played at home over a 12 game stretch that started on Jan. 16 and wraps up on Feb. 13.
    The Warriors hit the ice again on Wednesday when they travel to Saskatoon to face the Blades at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
    NOTES – Saturday’s contest was the Raiders’ “WHL Suits Up” with Don Cherry to promote organ donation game. The Raiders wore specially designed Don Cherry-themed jerseys that were auctioned off during the contest. All proceeds of the auction go towards the Prince Albert chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
The Raiders salute their fans after Saturday’s win.
    It was also parents’ weekend for the Raiders, and the team honour the moms and billet moms of the players before Saturday’s game.

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