The Prince Albert Raiders were on the losing end of a goaltender duel, falling to the Kootenay Ice 4-1 on Friday at Western Financial Place.
Ice backstop Mackenzie Skapski stopped 30 of 31 shots to hand the Raiders their third straight defeat as playoff position drifts further and further out of reach with their record falling to 23-25-3.
Outshooting the Ice a modest 11-10 in the first period, the Raiders could not get past Skapski who on Oct. 13, stopped 30 shots en route to a 2-0 shutout victory over the Raiders at Western Financial Place.
On the other end of the ice, Raiders starting goalie Cole Cheveldave did all he could, matching the play of Skapski by making a series of big saves in the opening period to keep things scoreless going into the second frame.
Both teams struggled to get on the score sheet in a game featuring two of the WHL's most highly touted offensive prospects in centres Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl.
Skapski and Cheveldave continued to duel in the back-and-forth middle frame. Midway through the period, Cheveldave made a stunning glove save on Reinhart, denying the centre who has scored four points in as many meetings with the Raiders this season.
Seventeen minutes into the second period, Draisaitl demonstrated why he is regarded by scouts as one of the best play-making centres entering the 2014 draft, feeding Dakota Conroy who hammering the game's opening goal past Skapski. Not to be outdone by the German prospect, Reinhart followed suit, tallying an assist on a marker by left wing Zach Franko 41 seconds later to tie thing up at ones going into the third period.
Early in the third period, Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey got into it with Reinhart and the two dropped the gloves in a scuffle resulting in Morrissey being sent to the box with an unsportsmanlike conduct call tacked onto his fighting major.
The Ice took the lead on the ensuing power play two and a half minutes into the third period with centre Luke Philip's 20th goal of the season, extending his point streak to 12 games.
Cheveldave stood his ground, keeping the Raiders within one but his team struggled to bounce back from Morrissey's questionable penalty earlier in the period and could not beat Skapski.
With the Raiders outshooting their opponent, coach Cory Clouston yanked Cheveldave for the extra attacker, allowing the Ice to clinch victory with an empty-net goal, then another by right wing Zak Zborosky with Cheveldave back in net to put the game on "Ice."
The Raiders will have three days off to regroup and recharge their batteries before they take on the Swift Current Broncos on Tuesday at the Art Hauser Centre.
RAIDER NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Friday were Mackenze Stewart, Jayden Hart and Craig Leverton âŠ The Ice post an all-time record of 43-20-1-1 against the Raiders ... Since Dec. 1, the Raiders post a record of 6-16-1. They have lost to the league-worst Lethbridge Hurricanes twice in that span ... The Ice are one of three teams to shutout the Raiders this season along with the Red Deer Rebels and Swift Current Broncos. The Raiders have posted a pair of shutouts against the Regina Pats and Broncos, both with Cheveldave between the pipes ... On Jan. 13, Draisaitl was listed at No. 2 in the NHL Central Scouting's North American skater midterm rankings. Reinhart was ranked No. 4 while the OHL's Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs topped the list.