The Prince Albert Raiders showed why they are the hottest team in the WHL right now by coming into Western Financial Place on Sunday and plundering a 5-3 victory out of the Kootenay Ice on Sunday evening.
That gives the Raiders a six-game winning streak as the team hasn’t lost a game in regulation yet this season, while the Ice ceded their second consecutive game and now hold a 1-4-0-0 record.
The Raiders scored four unanswered goals before Ice forward Brock Montgomery responded with a quick pair roughly a minute apart late in the middle frame, but Kootenay couldn’t edge out a third period comeback.
“That’s a bad start,” said Montgomery. “We had a week off and we should’ve come mentally prepared. No one did that and the onus is on the veteran players to come out and lead the way for the younger guys and I don’t think our top forwards and D [defence] showed the younger guys the way there.”
Ice stopper Mackenzie Skapski started the game, but was replaced with Wyatt Hoflin after the first period. Skapski allowed three goals in eight shots, while Hoflin made 11 saves.
Andy Desautels stood in goal for the Raiders and made 26 stops during the contest.
It was a flat first period that doomed the Ice, as Sawyer Lange scored first for the Raiders less than two minutes into the game on an early powerplay.
Davis Vandane doubled the lead seven minutes later, banging in a feed from the slot, and import Leon Draisaitl found the back of the net off an odd-man rush to increase the Raiders’ lead to three.
The goaltending switch didn’t seem to faze the Raiders, as Shane Danyluk capitalized near the halfway mark after a few minutes of sustained pressure by Prince Albert in the Ice’s zone.
However, with a few minutes to go in the period, the Ice woke up, as Montgomery went to work.
Streaking down the right wing, Montgomery wound up and blasted the puck into the top corner over Desautels’ shoulder in a slap shot so well placed, it exploded the goaltender’s water bottle.
Montgomery scored again 1:06 later, capitalizing when Sam Reinhart fed him a pass while breaking into the Raiders’ zone on a power play.
The Ice continued to make case for a comeback in the third period, when Jordyn Boyd notched his first goal in a Kootenay uniform, picking up the garbage just outside the crease in front of Desautels.
“Our mental game came around, we got a couple goals and thats when we got excited,” said Montgomery. “I don’t think that’s when we should be getting excited, we should be getting excited right from the first face-off.”
Kootenay then spent the next four minutes looking for the equalizer, but it was the Raiders who scored, when Danyluk got his second of the game off an odd-man rush.
The Ice played the remaining three minutes of the game with a sense of urgency that was missing for most of the contest, but the Raiders held off the onslaught that came with an extra attacker when Hoflin was pulled.
Reinhart was in on all three Kootenay goals, while Jagger Dirk and Jaedon Descheneau picked up assists as well.
Kootenay Ice utility man Jeff Hubic moved up into the forward ranks to cover the absence of Jon Martin, who served the first of a three game suspension as part of WHL discipline for a line brawl against the Lethbridge Hurricanes a week ago.
A few minutes before Montgomery’s goals, Hubic showed the first signs of emotion from the Ice, dropping the gloves with Joey Santucci in a brief scrap in the Prince Albert’s corner
Ice defenceman Spencer Wand made it back into the lineup, as did forward Luke Philp, who both recovered from day-to-day injuries.
Philp proved to be slippery out on the ice as he tried to weave in between the Raiders defence and dodged a hit, which cause the collision of two Prince Albert players.
The Ice are back at it on Wednesday night to take on the Prince George Cougars, who will roll into town for the first of a three-game road trip.