Two goals just over 30 seconds apart to start the second period proved to be the difference as the Prince Albert Raiders fell 6-3 to the Swift Current Broncos in Western Hockey League action on Tuesday.
“I thought we had the strong start we wanted to get there, but those tough quick goals in the second (period) put us on our heels,” said Raiders’ head coach Steve Young after the game in Swift Current.
The loss was Prince Albert’s second in a row and puts the team on the outside looking in to try and get home-ice advantage for the opening round of the playoffs. Coupled with Red Deer’s 6-4 win at home over the Kootenay Ice, the Raiders now trail the Rebels by four points with just six games remaining.
They also have to start looking over their shoulders as the Broncos and Medicine Hat Tigers are just five points back and it doesn’t get any easier as the Raiders host the Calgary Hitmen tonight at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
“Swift Current was a tough series,” said Young of the fact that the home team won all eight games between the provincial rivals. “A lot of things happened, but we have to get right back at it tomorrow night (tonight).”
Prince Albert’s Jayden Hart and Swift Current’s Graham Black exchanged first-period goals before Levi Bews and Colby Cave tallied in the first 87 seconds of the middle frame to give the Broncos control and chase starting Raider netminder Luke Siemens to the sidelines.
Cave scored two minutes later on Andy Desautels, who replaced Siemens, but the Raiders bounced back with goals by Mike Winther and Dylan Busenius before the second intermission.
That was as close as the Raiders would get, however, as Coda Gordon and Bews, into an empty net, put the game out of reach.
Prince Albert outshot the Broncos 36-31 in the contest, but once again Eetu Laurikainen closed the door on the Raider shooters.
Tonight’s game is hard to predict as the last time the Hitmen were in town the Raiders won 2-0. Calgary, however, is coming off an explosive performance in Saskatoon where they beat the Blades 9-5.
RAIDER NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Tuesday were Riley Guenther, Joey Santucci and Tim Vanstone. All were healthy scratches…Prince Albert needs just one point in its final six games to secure a playoff berth for the second time in the last six years. Naturally, they would like to do much better than that, but a win, shootout loss or overtime loss tonight would clear that obstacle. A Lethbridge Hurricane loss, of any kind, against Red Deer tonight would also guarantee Prince Albert a spot in the post-season party.