In the blink of an eye, the Prince Albert Raiders reclaimed top spot in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference standings.
Leon Draisaitl and Logan McVeigh scored goals six seconds apart midway through the second period to propel the Raiders to a 5-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday and in the process Prince Albert slipped one point past the idle Calgary Hitmen for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The lightning-fast goals equalled a Raider record set on two previous occasions – 1982 (Allan Stewart and Dave Kendall) and 1987 (Mike Modano and Shawn Byram) - but is still a long way from touching the league standard as Pavel Brendl and Brad Moran scored goals two seconds apart for Calgary in a game played more than 14 years ago.
Saturday’s game was the back end of a doubleheader between the Raiders and Wheat Kings with Prince Albert having ended a six-game road trip on Friday with a 6-0 triumph in Brandon.
As is often the case, when one team records a one-sided victory, the losing combatant comes out strong the next time out and Brandon did just that with Beauval product Eric Roy giving the Wheat Kings an early 1-0 lead on Saturday.
Raiders’ head coach Steve Young says that woke the team up and got them moving in the right direction.
“They came out strong and as coaches we can tell them that, but I think we got more educated when they scored,” said Young.
Reid Gardiner, playing in just his third game after missing more than a month with an upper-body injury, got the Raiders on the board before the first period was over and that set the stage for the outburst in the second frame, which included another goal by Mark McNeill to put the game out of reach.
“We need more consistent periods like that,” acknowledged Young as the Raiders not only dominated on the scoreboard, but they out shot the Wheat Kings 21-8 in that middle session. “It’s a sign when you can do things like that it shows that it can be done and we have to continue to do it.”
Chance Braid and Chad Robinson exchanged goals in the final period to complete the scoring.
Luke Siemens had another strong game in the Raider goal kicking out 24 shots, but Curtis Honey had a much busier night in the Brandon net as he was tested 40 times.
RAIDER NOTES: Dakota Conroy set up both of the goals that were scored in record time and added another assist on the final goal by Braid…Anthony Bardaro collected an assist on the Gardiner goal to give him 150 points for his career…Defenseman Josh Morrissey played in his 99th game and will reach the century mark on Wednesday when the Raiders host the Lethbridge Hurricanes…Braid was an assist away from a Gordie Howe Hat-Trick as he also had a third-period tussle with Wheat King defenseman Ryley Miller to go with his goal…Miller was not suspended for his knee-on-knee hit on McNeill late in Friday’s match…Brandon was without four regulars, including their top two scorers, for both games of the doubleheader. Allessio Bertaggia, Ryan Pulock, Jens Meilleur and Tyrel Seaman all sat out the weekend with a variety of injuries…Prince Albert was without Joey Santucci, Andy Desautels and Riley Guenther with Santucci sidelined with a lower-body injury and Desautels on the shelf with a broken finger. Guenther was a healthy scratch…To take Desautels’s place as the back-up to Siemens, the Raiders once again had 15-year-old Nick McBride dressed. McBride was the Raiders’ second pick overall in the 2012 bantam draft and has been with the club since Prince Albert returned from a road trip through Alberta a week ago…Saturday’s game, the first at the Art Hauser Centre in more than two weeks, attracted the largest crowd of the season as 3,178 fans crammed into the building.