Alles Gute zum Geburtstag Leon!
Leon Draisaitl, the Prince Albert Raiders’ rookie sensation, celebrated his 17th birthday in style on Saturday.
The native of Cologne, Germany – with his mother and sister in the stands – set up three goals and missed several great chances of his own to lead the Raiders to a 5-1 Western Hockey League victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.
It was the second straight night that the two teams met in Prince Albert with Moose Jaw recording a 3-2 come-from-behind victory on Friday. Raiders’ head coach Steve Young says it was imperative for the team to come out strong after the disheartening defeat 24 hours earlier.
“We gave Moose Jaw energy last night and it was important that we take it away early,” said Young. “It was a good rebound effort. Especially when you play back-to-back against the same team it is important. We played a strong team game.”
Draisaitl did all of his playmaking in the first period when he set up two goals by Mike Winther and another by Josh Morrissey as the Raiders jumped into a 3-0 advantage.
Unlike the night before when the Raiders squandered a 2-0 first-period cushion, Prince Albert kept applying the pressure and it paid off with Dakota Conroy scoring in the middle period and Winther completing his hat-trick early in the third.
“Last night and the game in Moose Jaw (a 9-0 loss on Oct .13) we had good first periods and then backed off,” said Winther, a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in July. “We needed to rebound today and all four lines played well.”
Winther’s outburst was good news not only for the team, but for himself as well as the 18-year-old only had two goals in his first 10 games this season after notching 32 last year. He says he just has to keep things simple and not put so much pressure on himself.
“I’ve been fighting the puck,” admitted Winther, who missed four games earlier in the year with a groin injury. “I’ve talked to (associate coach) Dave (Manson) and he says to keep things simple and I did that tonight. It worked out well.”
The Raiders were working on a shutout until Justin Kirsch finally scored for Moose Jaw with under 10 minutes to play. Luke Siemens, who was a member of the Warriors last year, finished the game with 27 saves in the Prince Albert goal while Daniel Wapple turned aside 25 Raider blasts.
The win improves Prince Albert’s record to 9-4-0-2 and keeps the Raiders on top of the East Division standings. The victory was also significant in another form as it was just their fourth on home ice in nine starts. Young says winning games at home is crucial to the team’s success.
“You want to entertain the fans who support you,” says Young. “We can take the energy we get from home (games) and take it to the road.”
RAIDER NOTES: With it being parent/billet weekend, all of the players presented a rose to their mothers or billet prior to the game…Prince Albert still has two more home games on their current seven-game homestand as they will host Swift Current on Tuesday and the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday…Not dressed for Saturday’s game were Anthony Bardaro, Shayne Gwinner and Reid Gardiner. Bardaro was away all weekend attending a family funeral in British Columbia, but is expected to be back for Tuesday’s game. Gwinner was a healthy scratch as 16-year-old Tim Vanstone was inserted in the line-up after missing the last four games due to a checking-from-behind suspension he received on Oct. 13 and Gardiner, another 16-year-old, is sidelined for another two weeks with an upper-body injury…Tuesday’s game will be another Las Vegas Night for Raider fans as entry forms can be filled out in the Johnny Bower Lobby and one fan will receive a trip to Las Vegas that includes return airfare and two nights accommodation.