When Luke Siemens blanked the Calgary Hitmen to start the month of February he had no idea he was closing in on a piece of Prince Albert Raider history.
That performance had moved the 20-year-old netminder to within one of equalling the most shutouts in one season set by Rejean Beauchemin during the 2003-04 Western Hockey League season.
On Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre, Siemens wasted little time in corralling the game puck after stopping 22 shots in a 7-0 victory over the Regina Pats. Siemens now has six shutouts on the season, equalling Beauchemin’s standard, and it is something he is very proud of.
“It’s an honour, but I don’t want to take all of the credit,” said Siemens. “I didn’t think I had to play too amazing.”
It certainly wasn’t the most difficult game he has ever been involved in as the Raiders took full advantage of a depleted Regina line-up and had little trouble recording their 35th victory of the season.
“It’s been a rollercoaster here lately, but it (the win) gives us confidence that we can play,” explained Raiders’ head coach Steve Young. “Luke, on a personal basis, it is something he should be very proud of.”
The Raiders got goals from seven different players as they built period leads of 2-0 and 5-0.
Jonas Knutsen, Josh Morrissey, Davis Vandane, Leon Draisaitl, Shane Danyluk, Carson Perreaux and Dakota Conroy all scored with Mark McNeill, Anthony Bardaro and Perreaux each picking up a pair of assists.
“We have to play balanced hockey,” admitted Young. “We have confidence in everyone we put out there.”
The Pats, who were missing regular blueliners Tye Hand, Colton Jobke and Luke Fenske due to various injuries, were forced to use forward Trent Ouellette on the backend. The Raiders took full advantage of the situation as they directed 41 shots at Teagan Sacher and at times totally dominated the play.
“I decided after the first period the way the guys shut them down that I would give them something,” said Siemens when asked if he thought Wednesday was the night he might equal the record. “(Getting shutouts) is not something I look at at the start of the year. When the season is over I like to look at save percentage and wins because those are more related to the team.”
While the Raiders moved to within two wins of securing a playoff berth for just the second time in the last six years, the Pats are going in the other direction as they are now just one loss or Kootenay victory from being eliminated from the playoff race.
Wednesday’s win also gives Prince Albert sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings as they moved two points clear of the Red Deer Rebels. The Raiders also kept the East Division leading Saskatoon Blades within their sights as Saskatoon won their 17th straight game with a 3-2 shootout victory in Calgary on Wednesday. The Blades remain seven points in front of the Raiders with both clubs having eight games left on the schedule.
RAIDER NOTES: Sitting out the game for Prince Albert on Wednesday were Riley Guenther, Joey Santucci and Jayden Hart. Making his return to the line-up after missing the entire month of February with a concussion was Tim Vanstone…Prince Albert begins another busy stretch on Saturday when they will host the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Raiders will play their final eight games in a two-week stretch with the season concluding with what looks like a pivotal doubleheader at home against the Blades.