For anyone not familiar with the Prince Albert Raiders, Josh Morrissey could have passed as a 50-goal scorer on Friday.
With the seconds ticking down in overtime, Morrissey grabbed a loose puck just outside the Raider blueline and with lightning speed and sure hands went in all alone and fired a perfect shot between Lethbridge Hurricanes’ netminder Ty Rimmer’s legs to give Prince Albert an all-important 2-1 Western Hockey League victory.
“He read the play properly,” acknowledged Raiders’ coach Steve Young of his talented 17-year-old defenseman’s decision to jump into the play after Leon Draisaitl had poked the puck free from a pair of Lethbridge defenders at the Prince Albert blueline. “He’s (Morrissey) a very talented, solid defenseman in the league and a good defenseman on our team.”
The win, which improves Prince Albert’s record to 31-19-2-3, keeps the Raiders four points ahead of the Saskatoon Blades for first place in the East Division standings. The Blades picked up their seventh straight victory with a 4-1 triumph over the Swift Current Broncos on Friday and the Memorial Cup hosts still have a game in hand making every outing that much more important.
Prince Albert and Saskatoon switch opponents tonight as the Raiders are in Swift Current and the Blades are home to Lethbridge.
Friday’s game, which was witnessed by 2,748 fans at the Art Hauser Centre, was a goaltenders duo between Rimmer and Prince Albert’s Luke Siemens.
With plenty of passes going astray on both sides of the rink, the goaltenders were often required to make some key saves and none was more spectacular than Siemens’s stop on Sam Mckechnie on a penalty shot with 32 seconds remaining in the opening session.
Carson Perreaux broke the scoreless deadlock five minutes into the middle frame when he one-timed a huge rebound past Rimmer and it looked like the game would end with just the one tally as both Rimmer and Siemens continued to have strong games.
Siemens, who already has five shutouts this year and needs just one more to equal the Prince Albert record of six in a season set by Rejean Beauchemin in the 2003-04 season, was 6:43 away from reaching that mark when Joel Topping’s shot from the point went through a maze of legs and past the 20-year-old Raider netminder.
That set the stage for Morrissey’s heroics with 13.8 seconds remaining in the extra session and Young said although it was nice to get the win he admitted there were still some things the team needs to work on.
“We have to get back on track and to get on track we have to win games,” said Young. “We saw some better things, but there are still some things to work on.”
Chief among those is the power play, which again struggled going 0-for-6. The Raiders also have to get more shots on net as they had numerous opportunities to shoot the puck, but opted for a pass which resulted in them never getting the puck close to the goal.
RAIDER NOTES: Siemens finished the game with 42 saves while Rimmer was tested 38 times…Friday’s game was the 12th time this year Prince Albert has had to go extra time in a game. The Raiders have four wins and three losses in shootouts and they are 3-2 in games decided in the five-minute overtime sessions…The Raiders were without Harrison Ruopp (lower-body) and Tim Vanstone (upper-body) while Jonas Knutsen took the pre-game skate, but sat out due to numbers. Knutsen was injured two weeks ago and Young says he is now good to go…Lethbridge had Saskatoon Contact forward Kolten Olynek in the line-up. Olynek is the leading scorer in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and has played in both games that the Hurricanes have had in Prince Albert this year…Friday’s win was the first by the home team in the season series as the Raiders won the two matches in Lethbridge and the Hurricanes were victors the last time they were at the Art Hauser Centre…Prior to the game, former Raider netminder Kenton Rein was announced as the latest alumni to have a section of seats named in his honour. Earlier this year Nick Schultz had Section 5 dedicated to the former Raider defenseman and Theran Welsh has had Section 14 for a couple of years. Section 20 now has a Rein sweater and plaque commemorating his support of his former team. Rein, who played for the Raiders from 1985-87 and went on to play several years of minor professional hockey and with the Canadian national team, is now a lawyer in Toronto…RBC will be sponsoring a Skate Night on Sunday from 5-7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre with members of the Raiders, Mintos and A&W Bears in attendance to be with the fans.