Two-goal leads aren’t in the Prince Albert Raiders’ comfort zone lately.
For the second straight game the Raiders had a two-goal advantage entering the final period of a Western Hockey League game, but on Wednesday there was no celebration for a winning tally.
Sam Reinhart’s second goal of the game with just 26 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the red-hot Kootenay Ice to a 3-2 victory in Prince Albert’s final home game before departing on a six-game road swing.
“I don’t think our guys played a thinking game once they got up 2-0,” said a very disappointed Steve Young, the Raiders head coach.
“It was a disappointing effort,” added Young. “We could be leaving (on the trip) with two points instead of one.”
Anthony Bardaro and Mike Winther staked the Raiders to the two-goal lead in the first period, but Prince Albert could get nothing past Kootenay goaltender MacKenzie Skapski the rest of the way.
On Saturday when the Raiders blew a two-goal lead against the Red Deer Rebels, they salvaged the night with a game-winning tally by Josh Morrissey just under two minutes into the extra session.
They couldn’t duplicate that on Wednesday as Descheneau banged home a rebound past Raider netminder Luke Siemens just under four minutes into the final frame and then Reinhart got the equalizer 10 minutes later when his screened shot got past Siemens.
Reinhart’s winning tally was more the result of a lucky bounce than anything as the Raiders were pressing deep in the Kootenay zone when a pass back to Leon Draisaitl at the point bounced over his stick resulting in a two-on-one break for the Ice. Descheneau picked up the loose disc and then fed a perfect pass to Reinhart in front of the goal and his quick shot low on the glove side of Siemens ended the game and emptied an ecstatic Kootenay bench.
It was the second straight night that the Ice won a game in extra time and after starting the season with just 10 wins in their first 35 games, they have now won nine of their last 10. Kootenay has also won the last three meetings against the Raiders.
“We have to refocus as coaches and get the guys back on the same page,” said Young. “When we get scoring chances we have to be prepared to score.”
The Raiders now have a quick trip into Brandon on Friday before departing on their swing through the B.C. Division next week. Young says it is important that the players are ready for the gruelling five-games-in-eight-days trip.
“It’s a grind,” said Young. “We have to be mentally and physically prepared.”
RAIDER NOTES: The Raiders were without Josh Morrissey on Wednesday as the 17-year-old defenseman was in Halifax for the Top Prospects Game. Morrissey is to fly into Winnipeg today where the Raiders will pick him up for Friday’s game against the Wheat Kings…Joey Santucci and Austin Daae were healthy scratches for Prince Albert…The Raiders’ lead in the East Division standings is shrinking as the Swift Current Broncos are now within seven points of the frontrunners. Prince Albert, with a 26-15-1-3 record, has two games in hand on the Broncos, but the Saskatoon Blades have two games in hand on Prince Albert and trail the Raiders by 12 points.