For nearly 17 minutes on Friday, it looked like the Prince Albert Raiders were in big, big trouble.
After the visiting Kootenay Ice had dominated most of the first and taken a 2-0 lead with a wide advantage in shots, the Raiders replied with two goals in 19 seconds and added a third two minutes later to take an unlikely 3-2 lead into the dressing room.
But it wasn't meant to be for the home team, who later took a 4-2 lead but lost a 5-4 decision to the Ice in a six-round shootout.
"It's that time of the year," Raiders coach Steve Young said. "Any team that's playing in the last couple of games, it's all about having the energy and we're no different than any other team right now. We didn't have constant energy."
Kootenay opened the scoring when Luke Philp absolutely wired a shot from the slot into the top corner past Raiders netminder Luke Siemens.
Jaedon Descheneau extended the lead to 2-0 when he let Raiders defenceman Zach Hodder slide by him, pulled the back with a neat deke and fired the puck home.
Hodder scored 16:57 into the first and the game was tied in a mad scramble seconds later when Reid Gardiner fired the puck home past Ice
goalie Mackenzie Skapski.
Dakota Conroy gave the Raiders their first lead with 46 seconds left in the period on a powerplay goal.
The Raiders went up 4-2 with a Mike Winther goal midway through the second period and looked to be pulling away from the Ice.
"That's how we had to play," Young said. "I thought that spurt there and the Winther goal after a powerplay, that's the energy that we have to go with all the time. I thought we got away from that a bit."
Mike Winther extended the lead to 4-2 midway through the second but Kootenay replied four minutes later with Philp's second of the game.
The Ice tied the game midway through the third when Sam Reinhart took a rebound off the back boards and lifted it past Siemens before he could react.
There were nice chances in overtime. McNeill skated through the Ice and narrowly missed the net with a low shot from the slot.
Josh Morrissey came back with a minute left in overtime to foil an Ice two-on-one break and prevent what looked to be a tap-in goal.
Soon after, Anthony Bardaro hit a goalpost with a half minute of action left and a late rush by the Ice had Siemens searching for the puck when he deflected it high.
In the shootout, the Ice scored the lone goal when Levi Cable got a shot past Siemens, who made an outstanding glove save one shot earlier to keep the Raiders even. The closest the Raiders came was with their second shot when Morrissey glanced a shot off the outside of the post.
Raiders captain Mark McNeill, who was one of Team Canada's final cuts on Thursday, said he's had quite a week.
"I just wanted to play a simple game," he said. "I played three games in three nights so I just tried some leadership out there. It's an unfortunate loss but we have one game left before the holiday break. I'm sure we'll bounce back."
McNeill played with Winther and Gardiner on Friday with Leon Draisaitl and Jonas Knutsen away playing for their countries in the two world junior championship tournaments. He had an assist, was plus two and dominated several shifts.
Ice forward Sam Reinhart, who had a goal and an assist, said it was a good win for his team, which is playing four games in five nights and is missing some older players.
"We came out flying and put on a lot of pressure but then kind of laid off a bit," he said. "Skapski played great in the last couple of periods and we were able to come back."
Reinhart, whose older brother Griffin of the Edmonton Ice made the Canadian junior team, said the win was especially good with their depleted roster.
"It's no secret that we're a really young team and it's just nice to be able to rebound," he said. "It says a lot of our guys to come back from that one and it feels really good."
McNeill said that while he had no regrets and gave it his all at the junior camp, it stung not to make the team.
"I wanted it real bad," he said. "I was definitely feeling a lot of disappointment yesterday but I'm not the type of guy to hang my head low and be down on myself for a while. Today was a new day and it's in the past now. I have to get back to focusing on Raider hockey."
GAME NOTES: Coming into the game, the Raiders had earned 22 points on
the road and 22 at home ... The Raiders talked about taking fewer penalties this year and it's working. They are averaging 14.1 minutes per game, which is good for 18th place in the league. Last season they averaged 17.9 minutes per game ... The Raiders have had trouble with
the Ice over the years. The all-time series is 39-19-2-1 in favour of Kootenay ... Jonas Knutsen leads Norway into action against Slovenia on Saturday. He leads his unbeaten team (4-0) in scoring with three goals and two assists ... Kootenay has six Saskatchewan players on their roster ... The Raiders host the Brandon Wheat Kings on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre ...