The first-place Prince Albert Raiders!
Considering what the team went through last year, it has a rather nice ring to it.
The Raiders extended their lead in the Western Hockey League’s East Division to three points with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Friday. After recording the league’s worst record last season, the Raiders remain undefeated early this year with Friday’s win in Calgary improving their record to 5-0-0-1.
Mark McNeill scored the only goal in the shootout to the lift the Raiders to the victory after Calgary had forced the extra session and shootout with a goal by Greg Chase with one minute remaining in regulation time.
Anthony Bardaro, with two goals, Dakota Conroy and Josh Morrissey, who also collected a pair of assists, also scored for the Raiders. For Conroy, it was his third goal in four games since coming to Prince Albert in a trade with Victoria at the end of September.
The Raider have now won all three games they have played on the road this season. It wasn’t until Dec. 11 last year when the club won its third game away from Prince Albert.
Luke Siemens continues to be the go-to guy in the Prince Albert goal as the 20-year-old veteran who was acquired from Moose Jaw in the off-season has played every second of every game for the Raiders this year. Siemens turned aside 20 shots on Friday, and all three in the shootout, to collect the victory.
Special teams were another factor in the outcome of Friday’s match as the Raiders capitalized on three of seven power-play situations and were also perfect in killing off all three Hitmen man-advantage opportunities.
The Raiders will continue a busy Thanksgiving long weekend road trip on Sunday with a stop in Cranbrook to play the Kootenay Ice and then conclude the western trek with a date with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday.
RAIDER NOTES: Prince Albert continued to tinker with its line-up on Friday as they acquired 20-year-old defenseman Davis Vandane from the Spokane Chiefs. Vandane has played in 124 games with the Chiefs over two years and he also appeared in 13 games with the Saskatoon Blades over two seasons compiling three goals and 40 assists. The 6’4”, 215-pound rearguard has also seen action in 30 playoff games. The acquisition of Vandane gives Prince Albert four overage players with the league limiting each team to have just three on their roster as of Wednesday. However, the status of Antoine Corbin is still unknown as he remains in the American Hockey League trying out with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Should Corbin be returned to Prince Albert, the Raiders will have 14 days to decide on whom to release. The other overage players are Siemens and Bardaro…Not dressed for Prince Albert on Friday were Zach Hodder, Mike Winther and Chance Braid. Hodder is still sidelined from an upper body injury suffered in the second game of the season and Winther continues to nurse a sore groin. Braid was once again a victim of the numbers game.