Raiders drop fourth in a row, sit seven points out from playoffs
|Conner Roulette (#34) celebrates his hat trick goal.|
Star right-winger Conner Roulette had a banner night for the Blades netting a hat trick to power his squad to a 6-2 victory in a WHL regular season clash over the Raiders in Prince Albert on Friday night. Roulettes efforts ensure the Blades didn’t have to hear the playing of The Guess Who’s “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” at the Art Hauser Centre to the disappointment to most of the standing room crowd 2,758 spectators in attendance at the 2,580 seat facility.
It is tradition in Prince Albert to play “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” any time a hockey team from “Hockey Town North” defeats a visiting Saskatoon side including action in the WHL, under-18 AAA and female under-18 AAA.
|Conner Roulette (#34) has three career WHL hat tricks.|
Roulette said he was happy to pickup his second hat trick of the season and third three-goal game of his WHL career.
“Obviously, the last few games have been tough,” said Roulette, who had gone the Blades previous seven straight contests without a goal. “I haven’t been able to find the back of the net.
|Conner Roulette has two hat tricks this season.|
“I’m always looking to pass and not shoot. The morning skate today I was just trying to work on the shoot first mentality and picking my spot.”
Just 1:32 into the opening frame, the Blades drew first blood in Friday’s game scoring on their second shot of the contest thanks to Roulette. The Winnipeg, Man., product stole the puck from a Raiders player just inside the Prince Albert zone, circled to the left side of the Raiders net and popped home shot to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
|Conner Roulette has 24 goals and 35 assists this season.|
“I won’t hide the fact there, but I decided to shoot. I just got lucky. I kind of whiffed on it a bit.”
Roulette added that tally set the stage for the night he was going to have.
“For me, I was trying to work on just that shoot first mentality,” said Roulette, who was selected in the fourth round and 111th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. “When you get a chance like that early the game, I guess it kind of sets the tone.
|Conner Roulette celebrates his first goal on Friday.|
The Raiders pushed back and evened the score at 1-1 just over two minutes and 30 seconds later when star left-winger Sloan Stanick put a long range shot past Saskatoon netminder Austin Elliott. The host side went up 2-1 at the 8:50 mark of the first, when 16-year-old star rookie right-winger Ryder Ritchie drove home a power-play goal on a midrange shot through a screen in front of the Saskatoon net.
With 4:25 remaining in the opening frame, Roulette evened the score at 2-2 scoring for the visitors potting his second of the contest with a backhand shot from the front of the Prince Albert net past Raiders netminder Max Hildebrand. Roulette was put in alone on the Prince Albert goal after executing a give-and-go play with linemate in star left-winger Jake Chiasson.
|Sloan Stanick had the Raiders first goal on Friday|
Saskatoon opened the floodgates in the second netting three goals on five shots to surge ahead 6-2. Just 78 seconds into the second, Blades 19-year-old defenceman Charlie Wright picked up his seventh goal of the season to put the visitors up 4-2 after knocking home a puck backdoor at the right side of the Prince Albert goal after receiving a pass from star import right-winger Egor Sidorov.
With 3:29 remaining in the second, Roulette completed his hat trick finishing off a passing play from Chiasson and Blades captain Aidan De La Gorgendiere to push Saskatoon’s advantage out to 5-2. Mikhail Volotovskii, who is a 17-year-old sophomore right-winger, completed the Blades surge giving the visitors their 6-2 edge with 2:35 remaining in the second.
|Ryder Ritchie had the Raiders second goal on Friday.|
“We lost battles,” said Raiders head coach Jeff Truitt. “We weren’t strong on pucks.
“We didn’t make plays either. We might have made one play, but then it seemed like we had to break the puck out two or three times out of our own zone, because we didn’t get the puck going north. We didn’t get many quality opportunities.
“It was just one of those real kind of ‘blah’ games that we didn’t get anything done both defensively puck movement wise or offensively.”
|Jake Chiasson had a goal and two assists on Friday for the Blades.|
“Some go in and some don’t,” said Roulette who has 24 goals and 35 assists in 54 appearances with the Blades this season. “I think just getting the chances are good enough in a game like this.
“Obviously, we have the lead. Scoring the extra goal or scoring another goal is always nice. In a game we’re winning by four or we’re winning by three whatever it was, you just want to keep the pressure on and don’t let them get any chances and just be able to kill the game off.”
|Charlie Wright scored the Blades fourth goal on Friday.|
The Raiders dropped to 25-33-3 with their fourth straight loss. They sit 11th in the Eastern Conference and seven points back of a post-season berth with seven games remaining on their regular season schedule.
The Swift Current Broncos (28-29-1-3) and the Calgary Hitmen (26-26-5-3) are tied for eighth place and the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with 60 standings points. The Broncos have seven games remaining on their regular season schedule, while the Hitmen have eight games left on their regular season slate.
The Blades and Raiders go at it again on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre after a day off on Saturday.
|Mikhail Volotovskii scored the Blades sixth goal on Friday.|
“We have to collectively be better.”
Reflecting on his game on Friday night, Roulette gave credit to his linemates in Chiasson and rookie centre Jordan Keller and Wright for the success he had. Looking towards the next encounter with the Raiders, Roulette believes his club will hit the ice on Sunday refreshed with the day off between games.
“The day off is always nice,” said Roulette. “You get the mind away from hockey.
“We’ve had such a busy schedule in the last few weeks. We just want to take care of our bodies with lots of hydration and get the legs going a bit. Obviously, days off are huge for us.
|The Blades celebrate a seventh straight win on Friday.|
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