Friday, 1 October 2021

Opportunistic Bedard pushes Pats past Raiders

The Pats celebrate a third period goal from Connor Bedard.
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - Prince Albert Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said the most effective way to neutralize Regina Pats phenom centre Connor Bedard is to hide his sticks and skates.

Habscheid, who is one of the WHL’s all-time coaching greats, was making a joke of course with that statement in a post-game scrum after his Raiders fell to the Pats 3-1 on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre. The contest opened the WHL regular season for both teams.

Bedard netted Regina’s first and third goals on the night.

Still, Habscheid, who got play with the Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers for a short time in the 1980s, had to give props and marvel at what Bedard could do.

Connor Bedard (#98) fires home his first period goal on Friday.
The bench boss thought his club did a good job in containing Bedard, but the 16-year-old North Vancouver, B.C., product cashed in on his limited chances when they came to disappoint most of the 2,578 spectators in attendance at the 2,580 seat rink.

“He (Bedard) is a good player, but I thought we did a good job,” said Habscheid, whose team still has four key players away attending NHL training camps. “He was opportunistic tonight.

“I thought we did a good job with him. He had the one chance, and it was a good shot on the first one. On the second one, it was in tight, and he just makes some good plays.

Carter Serhyenko made 36 saves Friday for the Raiders.
“Our penalty kill was good against him. Five on five for the most part I thought we did a good job. When he gets a chance, he can score.”

Bedard capitalized on his first good chance to score in the contest at the 5:37 mark of the first period. He took a zone entry pass from linemate Zack Smith, skated into the Prince Albert zone and wired a shot to the top left corner of the Raiders goal.

Bedard, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 181 pounds, thought that quick start set a good tone for his side as the Pats would outshoot the Raiders 39-22 in the contest.

“I thought we came our really hard,” said Bedard. “Obviously, we wanted that first one.

Raiders RW Zachary Wilson, left, and Pats C Drew Englot battle it out.
“That is a really good team, and I thought we were able to outplay them.”

The Pats extended their edge to 2-0 with 1:36 remaining in the opening frame when veteran centre Drew Englot, who turns 19-years-old later this month, slid home an on-ice shot past Raiders netminder Carter Serhyenko, who faced 13 shots in the first 20 minutes.

The Raiders came out with a lot more fire in the second. Just before midway point of the frame, the Raiders were awarded a penalty shot when left-winger Evan Herman had a clear break to the Regina goal and was hauled down by Pats defenceman Layton Feist from behind.

Raiders LW Evan Herman got stopped on a penalty shot chance.
On the penalty shot, Herman performed a few stickhandling moves before snapping a shot that was turned away by Pats netminder Matthew Kieper.

The Raiders broke through on the scoreboard at the 11:33 mark of the second when right-winger Cale Sanders sprung left-winger Keaton Sorensen with a smart pass in alone on the Regina goal. Sorensen slid a backhander past Kieper to cut the Pats lead to 2-1.

The 19-year-old veteran forward was pumped to help turn the momentum in favour of the host side with his goal.

“We had a good shift there,” said Sorensen. “We took care of the defensive zone, and we got rewarded.

Keaton Sorensen sets to slide home a backhander for the Raiders.
“I got a nice pass by Sandy (Sanders) there, and I was lucky enough to finish her.”

Just moments after that tally, Raiders left-winger Ethan Ironside had a golden chance to even things up, but he rang a shot from the left wing boards off the post of the Regina goal.

Sorensen said it would have helped his squad to finished a couple of other chances in the second.

“You can’t really win games without shots, so I think we just had to get some more pucks to the net,” said Sorensen. “I would have been nice to pop a couple of more and finish some other chances.”

Ethan Ironside rang a shot off the post in the second period.
The Pats dominated the contest territorially in the third period.  With 8:44 remaining in the frame, Bedard fired home a key insurance goal through a screen midrange from the front of the Prince Albert goal to put the Pats up 3-1.

The Raiders got on the power play with the 2:04 remaining in the third and applied intense pressure during that time in the Regina zone. Prince Albert created a couple of net scramble scoring opportunities but wasn’t able to put the puck in the back of the Regina net.

Kieper stopped 21 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Pats. Carter Serhyenko turned away36 shots to take the setback in net for the Raiders.

Pats defenceman Ryker Evans picked up two assists in the win.

Ryker Evans had two assists for the Pats on Friday.
The Pats weren’t able to score on any of their four power-play chances, while the Raiders failed to score on their one opportunity with the man advantage.

Bedard was pleased his squad was able to start their regular season with a win.

“It is definitely nice,” said Bedard. “I think we just have to carry it over with such a short turnaround too.

“Obviously, you know there are 67 more games. We have lots of hockey left obviously, but it was definitely nice to get that first one.”

The two sides go at it again on Saturday at 1 p.m. Saskatchewan time at the Brandt Centre in Regina in a contest that will be shown live on CBC.

A mad scramble occurs around the Pats net late in the third period.
Bedard said the short turnaround will be challenging, but it both sides are going through that turnaround together.

“I think it is going to be not easy for everyone, but everyone is in the same boat,” said Bedard. “Obviously, we get home and get to bed and then obviously do what we can to prepare ourselves as well as we can.”

Looking to Saturday’s encounter, Habscheid doesn’t think his side will have a problem getting up for that clash noting it is on national TV.

“The bus leaves at 6:15 tomorrow morning, so it is an unusual game,” said Habscheid. “These kids get a chance to play on CBC.

The Pats celebrate their win on Friday night.
“For some of these guys, that is maybe a once in a lifetime thing, so I don’t think they will have a problem loading the bus or being on the bus at 6:15 to travel four hours to play on CBC from coast to coast.”

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