Monday, 20 May 2019

Huskies, bad luck beat Raiders

Prince Albert faces elimination from Memorial Cup

Noah Gregor had three points for the Raiders on Monday.
    Is the magic running out for the Prince Albert Raiders?
    The ending of Monday’s round robin game at the Memorial Cup tournament in Halifax, N.S., might be a bad omen for the WHL champions.
    The Raiders entered the third period locked in a 3-3 tie with the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in a clash played before 9,186 spectators at the Scotiabank Centre.
    Inside of the final five minutes of the third period, the puck luck did not go the way of the Raiders. The Huskies scored two gritty goals and put a third into an empty net for a 6-3 victory.
    With 4:32 remaining in the third, the Huskies jumped ahead 4-3, when 19-year-old right-winger Tyler Hinam scored his second of the night.
    Huskies star offensive defenceman Noah Dobson drove down the right wing into the Prince Albert zone and threw a pass to the front of the Raiders net. The puck sat loose in front of the Prince Albert goal and Hinam beat everyone to the puck firing home what turned out to be the winning tally.
    With 3:07 remaining in the third, the Huskies received another bit of puck luck to go up 5-3. A centring pass from Huskies centre Peter Abbandonato deflected off the skate of Raiders defenceman Zack Hayes right to Huskies left-winger Joel Teasdale, who was in perfect shooting position right in front of the Prince Albert net.
    Teasdale blew home his second goal of the contest to put the Huskies up two.
    Dobson added an empty-net tally with 1:41 remaining in the third to round out the Huskies three-goal surge and the 6-3 final.
    The result ruined a great game for Raiders star overage centre Noah Gregor, who had a goal and two assists in the contest.
Brayden Pachal had a goal for the Raiders.
    The win allows the Huskies to improve to 1-1. They will conclude round robin play on Wednesday with a game against the host Halifax Mooseheads, who are 2-0 in the tournament.
    The Raiders fell to 0-2 at the tournament with the loss. They will need to beat the OHL champion Guelph Storm, who are 1-1, in a round robin game on Tuesday (5 p.m. Saskatchewan time, Sportsnet) to earn a likely berth into a standings tiebreaker game on Thursday.
    Prince Albert could conceivably end up in Friday’s semifinal, but would need to blowout the Storm on Tuesday and hope the Huskies lose on Wednesday. The Raiders are hampered in any tiebreaking scenario posting by far the worst goals for-and-against ratio after two games with four goals for and 10 goals against.
    If the Raiders lose on Tuesday, their season is over.
    This marks the second time the Raiders are facing elimination from the current post-season.
    Their only other elimination game came back on May 13, when overage centre Dante Hannoun scored in overtime in Game 7 of the WHL final in a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. Of course, that victory allowed the Raiders to win their second WHL championship and the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
    Monday’s result also marks the 12th straight time the WHL champion has lost a game at the Memorial Cup tournament. The last time a WHL champion posted a win at the Memorial Cup came back on May 29, 2015, when the Kelowna Rockets hammered the host Remparts 9-3 in Quebec City, Quebec, in a semifinal contest.
    The clash between the Raiders and Huskies featured the squads that posted the two largest regular season win totals in the CHL in 2018-19.
    The Raiders posted the WHL’s best regular season record at 54-10-2-2 and were also rated second in the final CHL Top 10 rankings.
    The Huskies topped the QMJHL regular season standings with a 59-8-0-1 record and were rated first in the final CHL Top 10 rankings.
Cole Fonstad had a goal for the Raiders on Monday.
    Monday’s game started with the goalies on each side giving up a weak goal.
    At the 4:34 mark of the opening frame, Hinam snuck home his first of the contest from a bad angle standing along the right corner boards by the icing line in the Prince Albert zone to give Rouyn-Noranda a 1-0 lead. It was an uncharacteristic shot allowed by Raiders star netminder Ian Scott.
    Just under four minutes later, Raiders star left-winger Cole Fonstad scored on a wraparound to even things up at 1-1. Fonstad’s shot just snuck under the skate of Huskies star netminder Samuel Harvey, who didn’t have a strong seal on the post of his net.
    At the 13:47 mark of the first, the Raiders jumped ahead 2-1, when Gregor found captain Brayden Pachal pinching down from the point on a backdoor feed. Pachal, who rounded into an offensive defenceman this season, fired the puck into an empty right side of the Rouyn-Noranda goal.
    With 1:28 remaining in the first, the Huskies scores a picturesque power-play goal to even things up at 2-2. Felix Bibeau and Rafael Harvey-Pinard combined to set up Teasdale for an open backdoor chance to the right side of the Prince Albert net.
    Teasdale made no mistake knocking home his first goal of the contest.
    At the 12:59 mark of the second, the Huskies jumped ahead 3-2. Huskies import left-winger Jakub Lauko centred a pass from behind the Prince Albert net to Bibeau, who was alone in front of the goal.
Bibeau quickly wired home a shot to put Rouyn-Noranda up one.
    The Raiders evened things up at 3-3 with 2:17 remaining in the second, when Gregor took a smart drop pass from Fonstad and snapped home a shot from the right slot.
    That set the stage for the Huskies goal surge late in the third period.
Raiders netminder Ian Scott deal with some bad breaks on Monday.
    Scott turned away 27-of-32 shots to take the setback in goal for the Raiders. Harvey stopped 30 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Huskies.
    Monday’s game was a much improved performance by both teams from their respective opening contests at the event. The Raiders fell 4-1 to the host Mooseheads on Friday.  The Huskies dropped a 5-2 decision to the Storm on Saturday.
    Prince Albert was way better than the 6-3 final in Rouyn-Noranda’s favour on Monday.
    Before any possible tiebreaking scenarios can be discussed, the Raiders need to post a win on Tuesday. If the Raiders don’t win on Tuesday, they will be the first club heading home from this year’s Memorial Cup as their spectacular 2018-19 campaign will have come to an end.

Hangover not kind for 2018 Memorial Cup teams

Titan goalie Evan Fitzpatrick makes a save in last year’s Memorial Cup.
    The 2018-19 campaign was not kind to the participants of the 2018 Memorial Cup held a year ago in Regina, Sask.
    None of the four teams from last year’s CHL championship tournament qualified for this year’s event currently going on in Halifax, N.S.
    Actually, three out of the four clubs had dreadful rebuilding campaigns.
    The Acadie-Bathurst Titan won the Memorial Cup a year ago as the QMJHL champions. They finished second overall in the QMJHL regular season with a 43-15-8-2 record.
    After going through a huge turnover on their roster and seeing head coach Mario Pouliot leave to become the head coach and general manager of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, the Titan finished last this season in the QMJHL at 8-54-5-1.
    The Swift Current Broncos entered the 2018 Memorial Cup as WHL champions. The Broncos finished second overall in the WHL regular season in 2017-18 with a 48-17-5-2 record.
    After undergoing a massive turnover in the organization, the Broncos finished last in the WHL this season with an 11-51-4-2 record.
    The host Regina Pats fell 3-0 in the Memorial Cup championship game to the Titan a year ago. The Pats finished seventh overall in the WHL regular season with a 40-25-6-1 record in 2017-18.
Regina had serious roster turnover and finished third last in the WHL this season with a 19-45-1-3 record.
Glenn Gawdin finish off his CHL days at last year’s Memorial Cup.
    The Titan, Broncos and Pats stacked up their rosters with older players in an attempt to win the Memorial Cup.
    The Hamilton Bulldogs entered the 2018 Memorial Cup as champions of the OHL. The Bulldogs had the third best record in the OHL regular season in 2017-18 with a 43-18-4-3 record.
    The Bulldogs were the only participant from last year’s Memorial Cup that managed to earn a playoff berth this season. Hamilton posted a 29-34-3-2 record to finish in eighth and capture the final post-season berth in the OHL’s Eastern Conference.
    Hamilton was swept 4-0 in a best-of-seven first round playoff series against the Ottawa 67’s.
    The four participants at last year’s Memorial Cup showed just how quickly life can change in major junior hockey. The Titan, Broncos and Pats are expected to feel the effects of loading up to make it to that event still in the upcoming 2019-20 campaign.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.