Saturday, 12 December 2015

Blazers surge past Raiders

Blazers goalie Connor Ingram turns away the hard charging Raiders.
    PRINCE ALBERT - The Kamloops Blazers played the role of Grinch on the Prince Albert Raiders Teddy Bear Toss night.
    Right-winger Deven Sideroff had two huge goals, which included the game winner early in the third period, and an assist, while captain Matt Needham had four helpers as the Blazers downed the Raiders 5-2 in WHL action on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre. The two clubs were tied 1-1 after the first period and 2-2 after the second frame before the Blazers surged to victory before a fairly packed house of 2,610 spectators.
    “It wasn’t our best effort obviously,” said Raiders right-winger Reid Gardner. “We never want to lose in front of our home fans here in P.A., especially on a Saturday night.
    “It is our only game against Kamloops this year, and we wanted to give them our best. I don’t think we gave them our best, which is disappointing for our group.”
    Things started well for the Raiders, when overage rearguard Jesse Lees fired home a shot through a screen to give the hosts a 1-0 edge. That goal caused a shower of stuffed animals to be thrown on to the ice surface as part of the Raiders Teddy Bear Toss promotion.
    The Blazers tied things up just over four minutes later as Garrett Pilon netted his eighth of the season.
    The visitors controlled play in the second, but the Raiders jumped back out in front 2-1, when Gardiner sniped his 20th of the season top corner on Blazers netminder Connor Ingram.
    Kamloops evened the score at 2-2, when Sideroff slid home a bad angle power-play goal that took an odd turn of direction past Raiders netminder Rylan Parenteau. Just 79 seconds into the third, Sideroff scored again on the power play to give the Blazers a 3-2 lead.
Raiders winger Sean Montgomery cleans up after the teddy bear goal.
    “I thought we worked hard,” said Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. “We just missed that little edge.
    “We hit posts. We hit crossbars. It seemed like we would go right and the puck would go left. It just wasn’t our night.”
    Blazers centre Matt Revel scored during four-on-four action right before the Raiders were about to head to the power play with 5:19 left to play in the third. Collin Shirley scored into an empty net to pick up his 20th goal of the season to round out the scoring in the contest putting Kamloops up 5-2.
    The Raiders controlled a lot of the play in the third outshooting the Blazers 14-8. The hosts also had four chances on the power play in that stanza, but couldn’t put the puck past Ingram.
Ingram made a number of huge stops in the third, especially from close in, to back the visitors to victory.
    “To have those four power plays and not generate a whole lot was disappointing,” said Gardner. “We have tried to work on our power play the last two or three weeks.
    “I think we just need to watch more video, and put a little more thought into it.”
    Ingram made 28 saves to help the Blazers improve to 14-10-3-1.
    Parenteau turned away 28 of 32 shots to take the loss in goal for the Raiders, who fell to 18-10-2-1.
The Blazers celebrate a Deven Sideroff goal.
    Prince Albert entered Saturday’s action tied for first place in the WHL’s East Division with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Optimism was running high in Prince Albert for the Raiders, who haven’t won a playoff series since 2005 when they advanced to the Eastern Conference championship series. Since that run, the Raiders have posted a winning record only twice and missed the playoffs five times not including when they participated in a standings tiebreaking game in 2009.
    “It is a good league,” said Habscheid. “I think our guys were trying.
    “It is just they didn’t have that jump in their step. We have a day off tomorrow, a good practice on Monday and be ready for Tuesday.
    “It is a long year. You get games like that. Some games, you have that jump and you are always on the right side of the puck, and tonight we weren’t.”
    The Raiders host the resurgent Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday. The Blazers travel to Regina on Tuesday to take on the Pats.

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