For the second straight game, the Prince Albert Raiders lost a shootout at home Wednesday to suffer their fifth straight WHL loss.
Lead-off shooter Antonin Honejsek scored the lone goal of the shootout and the Moose Jaw Warriors defeated the Raiders 5-4 in front of 1,917 fans at the Art Hauser Centre.
Jonathan Parker had a big night for the Raiders, with his 10th goal of the season and assists on both of Sebastian Svendsen’s goals, but the 19-year-old Californian was snuffed on the final shot of the shootout. He tried a few extra dekes on Warriors goaltender Thomas Heemskerk, but lost control because of what he called bad ice conditions.
“(Mark) McNeill and I both had the net wide open,” Parker said of the Raiders’ close calls in the shootout.
“I’m not going to blame the ice, but that’s kind of ridiculous when kids are practising an hour before we went out there. I mean, the ice was not up to par for WHL standards.
“To go out there and lose a point because of the puck bouncing on all three players, it’s frustrating, because we do work on the shootout a lot in practice, and we’re actually pretty good at it.
“It’s a public rink and we’ve got to share it, but usually game days, the ice is off limits and the ice crews work on it all day. You shouldn’t see pucks bouncing four or five inches over the blade on a breakaway when the ice has just been Zambonied.”
Moose Jaw rookie defenceman Morgan Rielly put the Zamboni in drive when he scored with 1:39 left in the third period and forced the scoreless overtime.
With half-a-dozen NHL scouts in the building, Rielly showed the poise that makes the 16-year-old a promising prospect. From the faceoff circle, he wristed the puck top-shelf and beat Raiders goaltender Jamie Tucker on the blocker side.
“I just had the puck at the point and I tried to take my time with it,” said Rielly, who is familiar with the Prince Albert rink from his midget AAA days with the national-champion Notre Dame Hounds.
“There was a whole top-blocker (opening) and I just closed my eyes and shot.”
On the ice in the final minute of overtime, it’s obvious Rielly has earned the confidence of Warriors coach Dave Hunchak.
Moose Jaw had a 7-2 edge in shots in overtime, but the Raiders carried the mail for most of the night, outshooting their guests 49-39.
Coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes last Saturday, Prince Albert dropped to 5-7-1-2. Moose Jaw improved its record to 5-8-0-1.
“This is probably one of the worst games we’ve played and (yet) we won,” Hunchak said. “It’s been strange that way. I didn’t feel we deserved to win tonight, at all. We’ve played some very good hockey (in other games) and haven’t gotten results. That’s just the way hockey is.”
In their other shootout this season, the Warriors lost to the Medicine Hat Tigers.
While the Raiders suffered more shootout heartache, their power play connected on two of five opportunities. Svendsen’s second goal came off a nice pass from Parker, after McNeill set him up while playing the point on the power play. The Raiders clicked just seven seconds into Moose Jaw captain Spencer Edwards’ high-sticking penalty and gained a short-lived 4-3 lead.
“Our line was going again tonight, and our coaches and our team expect us to come out with fire and put up good numbers,” Parker said. “My linemates played great — Svendsen had two goals, obviously, and Herrod worked hard and had a few apples (two assists). All in all, our line gave our team a chance to win.
“It just goes back to a whole team effort. We have to bear down more in critical areas at critical times.”
Igor Revenko scored the Raiders’ other regulation goal, but he missed in the shootout when his backhander went wide.
Dylan McIlrath, Nathan MacMaster and Danny Gayle, with his first of the season, scored the other Moose Jaw goals. McIlrath, Honejsek and Warriors teammate Jordan Wyton each had two-point nights.
The Warriors didn’t have any power-play chances in Wednesday’s game. Svendsen’s coincidental roughing penalty (with the Warriors’ Joey Kornelsen) was the lone infraction against the Raiders.
Tucker was shaken up but withstood a couple of clashes with Quinton Howden and Edwards in the second and third periods, respectively.
Moose Jaw defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt, who suffered a knee injury at the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp, made his WHL season debut Wednesday. He paired with Collin Bowman for a towering defensive combination.
The Raiders and Warriors meet again Saturday night in Moose Jaw. The Raiders host the Swift Current Broncos on Friday night, while the Warriors are at home to the Spokane Chiefs.