Saturday, 4 May 2019

Raiders’ Hannoun, Scott too hot for Giants to handle

Prince Albert wins 4-0, evens WHL title series 1-1

The Raiders celebrate a second period goal from Noah Gregor (#18).
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – When given a little nudge, Dante Hannoun admitted he does have some extra motivation when he plays the Vancouver Giants.
    “Maybe a little, because this is my hometown team,” said Hannoun, who is a standout overage centre with the Prince Albert Raiders. “Obviously, I have to step up a bit, and a lot of my family and friends are watching.”
    Hannoun is from Delta, B.C., which is part of a network of smaller centres that make of the Vancouver area.
    On Saturday before a sellout crowd of 3,289 spectators at the 2,580 seat Art Hauser Centre, Hannoun had a goal and two assists to power the Raiders to a 4-0 victory over the Giants in Game 2 of the WHL Championship series.
Dante Hannoun had a goal and two assists for the Raiders on Saturday.
    With the win, the Raiders evened up the best-of-seven set 1-1. Game 3 is set for Tuesday at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C., at 7 p.m. local time.
    In the two games played so far in the WHL final, Hannoun has two goals and three assists.
    He got things started for the Raiders just past the halfway point of the first period. Working on the forecheck in the Vancouver zone, Raiders power forward Parker Kelly got the puck on a Giants turnover.
    Kelly made a tight pass across the face of the Giants goal to Hannoun, and Hannoun tapped the puck into an open right side of the net to give the Raiders a 1-0 edge.
    Hannoun said he has enjoyed centring a line with Kelly at right wing and gritty Justin Nachbaur on left wing, which has allowed him to have some personal success.
    “I don’t think it is myself,” said Hannoun. “Everyone I’ve been playing with, we’ve been working off each other and reading off each other.
Parker Kelly (#27) drives hard to the Giants net.
    “I think that was the biggest part. Kels (Kelly) and Nacho (Nachbaur), they battle hard every night. They are battling down low.
    “Kels passed it out front, and it was just a little tap in.”
    Near the end of the opening frame, the Giants had a huge chance to pull even. Rookie right-winger Justin Sourdif, who turned 17-years-old in March, came down the right wing and got in alone on Raiders netminder Ian Scott.
    Sourdif cut across the front of the Prince Albert goal and tried to put a backhand shot past Scott. Scott turned away the chance to preserve the Raiders one-goal edge.
    He made 15 saves to pick up the shutout win in goal for the Raiders. The blank was Scott’s fourth of the post-season.
Giants goal David Tendeck plays the puck behind his own net.
    Scott’s sound effort came after he was a bit shaking making 21 saves in the Raiders 5-4 setback in Game 1 of the WHL final to the Giants on Friday.
    “It was definitely a good bounce back game,” said Scott. “The guys didn’t lose faith in me.
    “The sun came up this morning. Playoffs are going to be a roller-coaster, and you just have to find that even level.”
    At the 7:43 mark of the second, the Raiders extended their lead to 2-0, when Hannoun and Kelly combined to set up import defenceman Sergei Sapego for a goal.
    Hannoun and Kelly got the puck to Sapego at the top of the left faceoff circle, and the Belarusian blue-liner snipped home his third of the post-season.
    At the 10:39 mark of the second with the Raiders working on the power play, Hannoun got the puck to star overage centre Noah Gregor in the right slot, and Gregor quickly unloaded a shot into the Vancouver goal to give the Raiders a 3-0 lead.
The Raiders faithful cheers one of their team’s goals.
    “We were on our heels at the start of the hockey game,” said Giants head coach Michael Dyck. “We came back in spurts, but nothing sustained.
    “We knew they were going to respond. We knew they were going to come out hard, and they did. We needed a bigger push.”
    At the 2:16 mark of the third, the Giants thought they got on the scoreboard when Gregor hooked Vancouver star centre Davis Koch into Scott, and the puck crossed the goal-line of the Prince Albert net.
    No goal was awarded on the play as a quick whistle blew, but Gregor was sent to the penalty box for a hooking minor.
Ian Scott makes one of his 15 saves to pick up a shutout win on Saturday.
    Star right-winger Brett Leason rounded out the scoring for the Raiders with an empty-net goal with 1:21 remaining in the third.
    Giants veteran defenceman Alex Kannok Leipert said his squad can’t dwell too much on Saturday’s loss and remember Game 3 on Tuesday provides a fresh start.
    “We’ve been pretty resilient all year,” said Kannok Leipert. “We just have to press the reset button and comeback at it Tuesday with the right attitude and ready to respond.”
    David Tendeck turned away 30-of-33 shots to take the setback in goal for the Giants. Dyck said his squad needs to support their puck stopper better.
Giants RW Justin Sourdif was stoned on a big first period chance.
    “He (Tendeck) played well,” said Dyck. “He was solid, and we have to do a better job of insulating him.
    “We left him hung out to dry a few times.”
    The WHL title series between the Raiders and Giants was expected to be hotly contested.
    The Raiders finished first overall in the WHL regular season standings at 54-10-2-2 and were rated second in the final CHL Top 10 rankings.
    The Giants placed second overall in the WHL regular season standings with a 48-15-3-2 record and are rated sixth in the final CHL Top 10 rankings.
    Between action in the regular season and playoffs, Saturday’s contest marked the first time the Raiders beat the Giants in three tries.
    Giants physical forward Owen Hardy has thrown a number of big hits in the first two games of the series, and he said he wanted to keep dishing out the hits in the series.
The Raiders fans cheer another one of their team’s goals.
    “I feel that is how I make the most impact on the game,” said Hardy. “I think that is one of the biggest parts of my game, so that is what I like to keep doing.”
    The only down part for the Raiders on Saturday came in the second period, when offensive defenceman Max Martin blew a tire and fell awkwardly on his own into the boards. He left the game, and Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said Martin will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
    Habscheid was pleased with his club’s play on Saturday and believed his squad could have won Friday’s encounter too.
Sergei Sapego (#12) had a goal for the Raiders on Saturday.
    “(Friday) night, we thought we deserved a better fate,” said Habscheid. “It was just one of those games.
    “We just didn’t change too much. We thought there was still a little bit more in the gas tank that we thought we could give. They brought it tonight.
    “You saw what it was. It was a real good effort.”
    With the next three games of the series to be played in Langley, Habscheid said his Raiders could enjoy their win on Saturday night, but the squad would be focusing on getting back to work on Sunday.
    “Tomorrow is a new day, and the series is far from over,” said Habscheid. “They are a good team.
The Raiders celebrate pulling even in the WHL title series at 1-1.
    “We’re going into their building now. We feel good about our game but we are not going to get ahead of ourselves.”

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