Saturday, 20 April 2019

OT winner by Oil Kings' Neighbours stuns Raiders

Quinn Benjafield waves to the Oil Kings fans after an OT win in P.A.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Jake Neighbours got rewarded for following the old adage there is never a bad shot on goal in overtime.
    With his Edmonton Oil Kings locked in a 3-3 tie with the host Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday, Neighbours entered the Prince Albert zone down the left wing on a routine rush.
    The rookie left-winger, who turned 17-years-old in late March, got in deep on a bad angle, but elected to get a shot on goal.    
    Neighbours put a floater over the right shoulder of Raiders netminder Ian Scott at the 14:49 mark of the extra session to give the Oil Kings 4-3 victory in Game 2 of the WHL Eastern Conference championship series between the two sides.
Oil Kings supporters celebrate their team's OT win on Saturday.
    With the win that came before a sellout crowd of 3,289 spectators at the 2,580 seat Art Hauser, the Oil Kings even the best-of-seven series at 1-1. The result stunned about 95 per cent of the crowd that came to support the host side.
    “Overtime, there is no bad shot,” said Neighbours. “The puck was kind of rolling.
    “I had no other play, so I just kind of ripped it on net. It was in a good spot.
    “It is pretty amazing. It feels a bit better in an away barn I have to say.”
    Game 3 of the series is set for Tuesday at Rogers Place in Edmonton at 7 p.m. local time.
Dylan Myskiw makes one of his 26 saves in goal for the Oil Kings.
    Raiders rookie right-winger Jacob Brook had a pair of assists in the setback, and he noted it was hard to feel good about his individual performance after the setback.
    “In the end, we want to win,” said Brook. “We didn’t do that, and I feel the points are nothing, when you don’t get the win.”
    Brook said he was already getting refocused for Game 3.
    “They played hard against us,” said Brook. “We just have to rebound off that.
    “There are little things we just need to clean up, and I feel like we can do that coming into Game 3.”
Jacok Brook had a pair of assists for the Raiders.
    The Raiders stormed out of the games getting the first eight shots on goal and taking a 2-0 lead on tallies from overage centre Noah Gregor and physical left-winger Justin Nachbaur by the 6:55 mark of the opening frame.
    A power-play goal from Oil Kings sophomore defenceman Matthew Robertson through a screen with 6:02 remaining in the first period cut the Raiders lead to 2-1.
    With 28.4 seconds remaining in the first, Oil Kings overage centre Andrew Fyten scored on another power play to tie things up at 2-2.
    “We had the game by the throat there at the start,” said Raiders captain Brayden Pachal. “It is early, so we have to keep pressing and find a way to not take penalties.”
    The Raiders jumped back in front 3-2 at the 2:47 mark of the third on a goal from import left-winger Aliaksei Protas.
    Just under three minutes later, the Oil Kings pulled even at 3-3, when star captain Trey Fix-Wolansky netted his fourth goal of the post-season.
Noah Gregor had the Raiders first goal on Saturday.
    That set the stage for Neighbours to pot the winner.
    Oil Kings head coach Brad Lauer was pleased with the game his side played.
    “Our start wasn’t as bad as it showed,” said Lauer. “I like how we were playing at the beginning of the game.
    “We should have shot the puck a couple of more times. We made two mistakes, and they put it in the back of our net. That kind of put us on our heels a little bit.
    “After the first (media) timeout in the first period, we went on a 13-0 run with shots, and I thought our power play got us going. It carried us through. I just like how we stuck to our details and played the team game.”
The Raiders faithful enjoyed the fact their team got out to a 2-0 lead.
    Ian Scott made 30 stops to take the setback in goal for the Raiders.
    Dylan Myskiw turned away 26 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Oil Kings.
Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid like the scoring opportunities his side created in overtime, but admitted to being worried when those chances didn’t find the back of the net.
    “I thought we carried the play in overtime,” said Habscheid. “We had multiple chances.
    “I’ve been around long enough that usually when that happens it is going the other way, and it did. It is unfortunate, but that is hockey. They threw it at the net, and it went in.
Ian Scott makes one of his 30 saves for the Raiders on Saturday.
    “That is the way it goes in the game. We just have to feel sorry for yourself for a few hours here and tomorrow is another day.”
    Habscheid thought the Oil Kings were allowed to take some liberties on Scott during the game. The veteran bench boss believed Edmonton’s second goal shouldn’t have counted, because he felt Scott was contacted on that play.
    The officials only gave the Oil Kings one minor penalty on Saturday, which happened to be a goaltender interference infraction on Fix-Wolansky in the second period.
    The Raiders were called for four separate minor penalties in the game.
    “The one thing that concerned me a little bit is it was kind of open season on our goaltender,” said Habscheid. “We depend on the officials to defend our goaltender, because we have no recourse anymore these days.
The Oil Kings celebrate their overtime victory.
    “He (Scott) was getting bumped and stuck and ran all game. We expect them (the officials) to take care of that, and they didn’t. That is a little bit disappointing.”
    Prince Albert finished first overall in the WHL’s regular season posting a 54-10-2-2 record and was rated second in the final CHL Top 10 rankings. As a result, the Raiders are pegged as favourites in the Eastern Conference final against Edmonton.
    The Oil Kings topped the Central Division and finished fifth overall in the WHL standings with a 42-18-4-4 mark, and they were an honourable mention in the final CHL Top 10 rankings. They are proving to be a formidable foe.
Jake Neighbours comes out to accept first star honours on Saturday.
    With Games 3 and 4 of the series to be playing in Edmonton, Neighbours said his side had guarded optimism. The Raiders won both regular season encounters between the two sides in Edmonton.
    “It is a good feeling,” said Neighbours, who was the first star of Saturday’s game. “They’ve been good in our barn.
    “We’re ready for it. We’ve been good in our barn this playoffs. We’re ready to come home to our fans and keep the series rolling.”

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