Raiders drop fourth-straight despite late comeback attempt

Andrew Schopp
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Prince Albert Raiders forward Dakota Conroy watches his shot go into the net past Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry during a second period powerplay to make the game 4-2 at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Alberton Wednesday evening. It was the first of two for Conroy in his team’s 7-5 loss. Raiders forward Chance Braid and Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazarcan be seen to the left. Herald photo by Perry Bergson

Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey will depart for World Junior Championship training camp on Thursday, leaving behind a four-game losing streak as the Raiders fell to the Edmonton Oil Kings 7-5 at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday.

Despite outshooting their opponents 29-28, the Raiders failed to foil the Oil Kings, now winners of seven straight and their ascent up the Eastern Conference standings.

Raiders coach Cory Clouston acknowledged the level of character his team showed through an almost successful comeback late in the third period, however said there is much work to be done in the back end, including the play of starting goaltender Cole Cheveldave who was yanked early in the third period.

"They capitalized on every one of our mistakes," Clouston said. "He (Cheveldave) has to step up. We need a save, we can't sugar coat it, it's fairly obvious that we aren't getting the save when we need it."

The puck went back and forth between the Raiders and Oil Kings zones in the opening minutes of the first period with neither team generating quality scoring chances until Raiders centre Leon Draisaitl took a high sticking penalty midway through the period to open things up.

Beating Cheveldave on the ensuing power play, centre Brett Pollock scored the opening goal, giving the Oil Kings an early 1-0 lead. Less than five minutes later, Raiders centre Tim Vanstone tied things up, firing a wrist shot from the point past Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry.

While the Raiders sustained pressure in the offensive zone, they struggled to contain the Oil Kings potent offence in the back end, outshot 11-7 in the first period.

" I thought we did a lot of good things, put together some good offensive chances, but we made some costly mistakes," Morrissey said of the Raiders defensive effort against a potent Oil Kings offence.

Morrissey reiterated that any mistake against a team like the Oil Kings, can prove deadly.

"I think we deserved a better fate tonight but at the same time, against a team like that, a few costly mistakes and errors  will cost you," Morrissey said. "It wasn't that we necessarily played a bad game at all but they capitalized on the chances we gave them."

With less than five minutes remaining in the opening frame, Oil Kings centre Curtis Lazar scored his fifth goal in three games against the Raiders this season, beating Cheveldave with a shot from the slot to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead going into the second period.

Midway through the second period, centre Henrik Samuelsson fed centre Lane Bauer who scored to put the Oil Kings ahead 3-1. Just over a minute later, left wing Mitchell Moroz ripped a slap shot past Cheveldave to give the Oil Kings a three-goal lead.

After two failed opportunities, the Raiders power play finally broke through the league's second best penalty killing unit, when right wing Dakota Conroy scored his fourth straight goal to cut the Oil Kings lead down to two.

Cheveldave's night ended 47 seconds into the third period, after Moroz tallied his second of the night, prompting Clouston to put rookie backstop Nick McBride in a relief role, facing a 5-2 deficit.

Clouston said Cheveldave will need to continue to plug away and regain his confidence after a shaky night between the pipes.

"He's (Cheveldave) just got to find it within himself," Clouston said. "Sometimes when your confidence goes it's tough to get back, nobody can give it to him, all he can do is work through it and all we can do is support him and play as hard as we can in front of him and I thought our guys did that tonight."

WIth just over 10 minutes remaining in the third period, the Raiders mounted a comeback, scoring a pair of goals from Conroy and left wing Gage Quinney to put the Raiders within one with eight minutes to go in the frame.

The Oil Kings would strike back with Lazar's second of the night, however, so would the Raiders, who got right back to within one seconds later as Draisaitl hammered a slap shot past Jarry.

Despite the Raiders valiant effort in the third period, the lead proved to be insurmountable as the Oil Kings tallied the empty netter to secure the win.

The Raiders will have the day off on Thursday before they take on the Kamloops Blazers for the first time this season on Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.

RAIDER NOTES:  Not dressed for the Raiders on Friday were Tyler Dea, Mackenze Stewart, Mike Winther and Reid Gardiner … Both Winther and Gardiner are day-to-day with undisclosed injuries ... Forward Lance Yaremchuk is back with the Raiders after being re-assighned to the Midget-AAA Prince Albert Mintos Nov. 16. Yaremchuk has tallied 17 points in 10 games with the Mintos this season ... Centre Leon Draisaitl and right wing Dakota Conroy are both riding seven-game point streaks … Defenceman Josh Morrissey overtook Dean Kolstad, Nick Schlutz and Dave Van Drunen for second in all-time scoring by a Raiders defenceman with 37 goals … Morrissey, who was invited to Team Canada's World Junior Championship selection camp on Monday, departed for the selection camp following Wednesday's game ... Draisaitl has posted points in all but eight games this season and has not gone longer than two games without a point ... 

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