Prince Albert Raiders forward Leon Draisaitl watches the puck fly through the air as Regina Pats goalie Daniel Wapple waits to make the save on Saturday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. A nudge from defenceman Kyle Burroughs led to Draisaitl crashing heavily into the boards and getting up slowly. He returned for his next shift. Herald photo by Perry Bergson
For the second night in a row, the Prince Albert Raiders ran into a hot goaltender, falling to the Regina Pats 4-2 on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Riding the stellar goaltending of Daniel Wapple and a Morgan Klimchuk hat trick, the Pats handed the Raiders their third straight defeat, beating them for the first time in six meetings this season as the Raiders grip on the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot loosened.
Raiders coach Cory Clouston agreed, after Saskatoon Blades goalie Troy Trombley stopped 41 of 42 shots in the Raiders 3-1 loss on Friday, they were yet again held off the board by outstanding goaltending, this time a 38 save performance by Wapple.
"We've ran into two goaltenders who have basically stolen games from us," Clouston said of Trombley and Wapple. "We need to score goals and we need to have a goaltender steal a game for us."
The Raiders ran into penalty trouble early when defenceman Josh Morrissey took a holding call just over a minute into the first period, allowing Klimchuk to strike first for the Pats on the ensuing power play.
Working with a four-on-three advantage, the Raiders struck back five minutes later when defenceman Sawyer Lange beat Wapple with a wrist shot from the point to take a 1-1 tie into the second frame.
The Raiders penalty woes continued in the second period when the Pats capitalized on an early power play opportunity. Cheveldave gave Klimchuk a wide open cage after making a diving save, allowing for his second goal of the night with the man advantage.
Less than five minutes later, right wing Dryden Hunt put the Pats ahead by two, beating Cheveldave short side with a wrist shot.
The special teams clinic continued when three and a half minutes into the third period centre Reid Gardiner put the Raiders within one with their second power play marker of the night.
After Wapple denied Morrissey on his doorstep, the Pats took the puck the other way and Klimchuk beat Cheveldave on a two-on-one opportunity to complete the hat-trick, putting the Pats ahead 4-2 with ten and a half minutes remaining.
"He's been unbelievable," Klimchuk said of Wapple. "When he's (Wapple) in net, you are pretty comfortable, he made some big saves tonight and without him it could have been a different story."
With Cheveldave on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice, Wapple continued to close the door, denying the Raiders on a series of quality scoring chances as the Pats held on for the win.
Frustrated his team let another two points slip away, Clouston said the Raiders are "snake bitten."
"It's frustrating," Clouston said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves, we got to get right back in it tomorrow and keep playing hard."
With the WHL's East Division standings as tight as they are, Klimchuk said stealing two points from the Raiders for the first time this season is "pretty special."
"You have to make sure you are getting the points especially when we are battling against Prince Albert," Klimchuk said of the Raiders who sit seven points behind the Pats in the standings. "We knew coming in that two points against these guys will give us a good cushion."
The Raiders are back in action on Sunday as they take on the Swift Current Broncos at the Art Hauser Centre.
RAIDER NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Saturday were Brendan Guhle, Darcy Zaharichuk and Matteo Gennaro ... Forward Gage Quinney entered Friday's game leading the Raiders with a rating of plus-14, tied for third among all WHL rookies … Forward Carson Perreaux has scored five goals in his last eight games and is three points shy of his point total of 24 in 72 games last season ... The Raiders post a record of 12-7-1 this season against Saskatchewan-based teams. They have lost to the Saskatoon Blades just once in six meetings ... The Raiders post a league low 517 penalty minutes going into Saturday's game ... The Raiders post a record of 15-1-0 when leading after two periods and are 16-6-0 when they strike first on the scoreboard.