Raiders 6 Rebels 4 (Prince Albert leads best-of-seven series 2-0)
The old adage good things happen when you shoot the puck was on full display in Prince Albert.
It was a tough night to be a goalie in the second game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal best-of-seven series at the Art Hauser Centre.
Pucks hit sticks, legs and posts to get by Ian Scott in the Raiders net and Ethan Anders at the other end. The Raiders managed to get the job done in the end Saturday, edging the Rebels 6-4 and taking a 2-0 stranglehold on the series heading back Red Deer.
“We faced some adversity… A win is a win and that’s all that matter in the playoffs,” said Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid.
For the visitors, despite tying the game after an early 2-0 deficit and getting a hat trick from Brandon Hagel, they mostly chased the Raiders throughout the contest.
“I thought the effort was good. We came out with a lot more jam and a lot more compete, just made too many mistakes,” said Rebels assistant coach Ryan Colville.
“They were all preventable goals. They were just mistakes on our part– positional play and giving them too much space.”
One bright spot for the Rebels in a game light on positives, their power play scored three times on four chances against the Raiders highly rated penalty kill.
Dante Hannoun created something out of nothing on the Raiders first goal. He skated into the slot and opened up a shooting lane with a drop past to Aliaksei Protas, who fired a wrist shot that eluded Anders.
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Defenceman Sergei Sapego put a laser through a screen for his first of the series and had the Rebels struggling to hang on.
Without a shot in the first 10 minutes of the period, Red Deer made their first of the frame count. Ethan Sakowich directed the puck towards the Prince Albert net and Chris Douglas redirected it in. It was his first career WHL playoff goal.
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As they tried to wrestle a bit of momentum from the home side, a tough bounce hurt the comeback cause.
On a 2-on-1 with four minutes left in the first, Sapego notched his second of the night when he banked a pass in off of Carson Sass, who was attempting to break up the play.
When the game was slowly slipping away from the Rebels, Brett Leason hit Cam Hausinger from behind and was tossed early in the second. He received a five minute major and a game misconduct for the hit.
Late in the advantage, Hagel showed why he had 41 goals in the regular season. The veteran Rebel picked up the puck off the wall and deked past a pair of defenders before burying a blast to get his team within a goal.
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A bounce finally went the Rebels way just before the midway point of the period. A Jacob Herauf one-timer, hit Hagel on the way towards the net and snuck in to the the game at three.
“We worked ourselves back into the game after a slow start. It was huge. We gave up too much momentum, too often,” added Colville.
With the momentum finally in the Red Deer corner, Prince Albert wrestled the lead back 2:14 after the Hagel tally.
Captain Brayden Pachal fired a point shot that hit a Rebels’ stick and got past Anders.
Still within a goal after 40 minutes, Protas put the game out of reach with his second of the night two minutes into the third.
Ozzy Wiesblatt added his second of the series at 7:47 of final frame.
On the power play midway through the third, Hagel tipped home a Dawson Barteaux point shot for his third of the game to cut the deficit to a pair.
Anders finished with 25 saves and Scott stopped 19 for the Raiders.
The series shifts to Red Deer on Tuesday with puck drop set for 7 p.m. at the Centrium for Game 3. Game 4 is Wednesday at the Centrium.
“I think without a doubt we can beat this team,” Colville said.
“We gotta compete with them and we gotta limit our mistakes and play more in charge. Play less on our heels and be more assertive. Keep the mistakes to a minimum.”