Prince Albert Raiders forward Jayden Hart tries to get a shot off against Moose Jaw Warriors goaltender Zachary Sawchenko during second period action at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday evening. Hart was denied on the attempt in what proved to be a 4-3 Warriors victory. In the background, Warriors defenceman Travis Brown, Raiders forward Dakota Conroy and Warriors forward Brayden Point battle for position. Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Despite outshooting their opponent 29-25, the Prince Albert Raiders suffered their seventh straight loss, falling to the Moose Jaw Warriors 4-3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday.
Tuesday's loss brings the Raiders record to 17-16-2, as they inch ever closer to .500 for the first time of the season.
Raiders coach Cory Clouston said the Raiders depleted roster, devoid of key players including centres Leon Draisaitl, winger Mike Winther and defenceman Josh Morrissey, is starting to take its toll.
"Moose Jaw has a lot of confidence against us, they are a good hockey team," Clouston said. "They've got good players and when you take three of our better players out it pretty much equalizes both clubs. You take two world class players like Draisaitl and Morrissey and then Winther out, you're left with pretty much even rosters."
Clouston summed up the loss simply, attributing it to missed opportunities.
"We had enough opportunities to win the game, that's the bottom line. We had the opportunities to win but we still didn't," Clouston said.
The Raiders struck first 45 seconds into the game after defenceman Sawyer Lange put a shot from the point on net and centre Carson Perreaux scored his first goal since Nov. 20, netting a rebound given up by Warriors backstop Zachary Sawchenko.
Both teams exchanged offensive blows as the puck moved back and forth between the Raiders and Warriors zones, keeping the shots close as the Raiders outshot the Warriors 10-9 in the first period.
The Warriors got on the board late in the period when centre Brayden Point popped in a rebound off a shot by left wing Tanner Eberle to tie things up at ones. Just over two minutes later, right wing Miles Warkertine tallied a second unanswered goal to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead going into the middle frame.
With the shots at 9-7 in favour of the Warriors in the second period, both teams struggled to generate quality scoring chances in a period that saw not much more than a few violent scrums and vicious checks.
The Warriors eventually broke free from the defensive stalemate as Raiders backstop Cole Cheveldave stoned centre Bryson Gore on a breakaway opportunity with six minutes remaining in the scoreless second frame.
Clouston said despite the toll a significant roster hit has taken on the team, he is glad to see the organization's young guns step up.
"They're playing well," Clouston said of the seven Raiders rookies who dressed for Tuesday's game. "I guess if there is a silver lining in all these injuries and guys leaving, it's that we've played our young guys more than I ever anticipated. I would have never have thought these guys would be playing as many minutes and in as many important situation as they are."
Just over three minutes into the third period, the Raiders tied things up when forward Reid Gardiner deflected a pass from defenceman Brendan Guhle off his knee and past Sawchenko.
The Warriors struck back midway through the period when centre Bryson Gore broke free to beat Cheveldave with a deke, putting the Warriors ahead 3-2.
Clouston gave Cheveldave the yank for the extra man with over a minute and a half remaining in the third period allowing the Warriors to put the game on ice when Gore tallied his second of the night with the empty net goal.
With a two-goal deficit and time on the clock the Raiders would not go away.
With Cheveldave pulled again, the Raiders got themselves within one, beating Sawchenko with a Dylan Busenius slap shot.
The late comeback was not to be however as the Warriors held on to string together consecutive wins for the first time since Oct. 9.
Frustrations boiled over when after the closing buzzer, Raiders left wing Chance Braid dropped the gloves with defenceman Jesse Forsberg.
"We need to get healthy, back to a regular roster and turn the fate around," Clouston said. "The guys are working hard, they are trying and they don't quit but we have to be better as a group."
Following a 10-day Christmas break, the Raiders will be back in action on Dec 27. when they take on the Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre.
RAIDER NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Friday were Tyler Dea, Josh Morrissey, Mike Winther and Leon Draisaitl â€¦ Winther is day-to-day with an upper-back injury ... Morrissey is in Toronto attending Team Canada WJHC selection camp. Draisaitl is attending Team Germany camp .... Forward Lance Yaremchuk is back with the Raiders after being re-assigned to the Midget-AAA Prince Albert Mintos on Nov. 16. Yaremchuk has tallied 17 points in 10 games with the Mintos this season ... Right winger Dakota Conroy is riding an eight-game point streak. Conroy is just four goals shy of his total of 21 in 67 games last season â€¦ Draisaitl was named to the BMO top prospects game roster on Friday; he will compete in the contest which features CHL and NHL prospects on Jan. 15 in Calgary ... Parkland Ambulance encourages fans attending the Raiders tilt against the Saskatoon Blades on Dec. 27 to bring toques, mittens, gloves, scarves and other winter gear for donation. Parkland Ambulance staff will be in the Art Hauser Centre lobby collecting items as fans enter the arena.