The brooms were at the ready, but in the end it was the Edmonton Oil Kings who dusted off the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday.
Having won the first three meetings between the divisional leaders, the Raiders were less than eight minutes away from sweeping the defending Western Hockey League champions this season.
David Musil‚Äôs goal at 3:31 of overtime, however, capped the Oil Kings comeback and extended their winning streak to nine games with the 4-3 triumph.
‚ÄúYou always want to test yourself against the tough teams,‚ÄĚ said Raiders‚Äô head coach Steve Young, obviously disappointed with the loss, but pleased with the effort. ‚ÄúEvery point now is important so we‚Äôll take it and get ready for Saskatoon.‚ÄĚ
At points in the game, the Oil Kings definitely showed why they are the best team in the East Division. They cycled the puck in the Prince Albert zone and peppered Raider netminder Luke Siemens with 52 shots, including six alone in the extra session.
The Raiders countered with persistent checking and lesser-known players like Joey Santucci and Riley Guenther stepped up their game and turned in their best performances of the year.
‚ÄúThey kind of play in the shadows, but they are guys we believe in,‚ÄĚ said Young.
The teams battled through a scoreless first period and a Mike Winther tally early in the middle session looked like it was going to be the only goal of the game until the floodgates opened.
Mitchell Moroz knotted the score five minutes into the third period and 46 seconds later Leon Draisaitl put the Raiders back in front when he banged home a huge Dakota Conroy rebound.
The Raiders then got a two-man power-play and made it count as Davis Vandane wired a shot from the point that deflected off an Edmonton defender past netminder Laurent Brossoit.
Turnaround is often fair play and when Edmonton got a two-man advantage of their own, Michael St. Croix, with his 27th of the season, brought the Oil Kings back to within one and five seconds after the second penalty expired, Stephane Legault buried one past Siemens.
The Raiders still had some chances in regulation time, but once the extra period started it was all Oil Kings as they outshot Prince Albert 6-0 and Musil capitalized on a poor line change to salvage the win.
RAIDER NOTES: The point for the overtime loss gives Prince Albert 65 on the season and leaves them six points ahead of the Saskatoon Blades, who beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 5-4 on Tuesday. The Raiders are in Saskatoon tonight for a pivotal match as the race for first place heats up. The Blades, who have now won five straight games, also have a game in hand on Prince Albert‚Ä¶Not dressed for the Raiders on Tuesday were Jonas Knutsen (upper-body injury), Tim Vanstone (concussion) and Harrison Ruopp (lower-body injury). All three will likely be unavailable tonight and could also miss this weekend‚Äôs games at home on Friday against Lethbridge and in Swift Current on Saturday against the Broncos‚Ä¶There will be an RBC Skate Night on Sunday from 5-7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre with members of the Raiders, Midget AAA Mintos and A&W Bears in attendance to skate with the fans.