Prince Albert Raiders goalie Cole Cheveldave makes a kick save on a Medicine Hat Tigers point shot in the Raiders 3-2 victory on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre. Cheveldave stopped 27 of 29 shots to secure his 20th win of the season. Herald photo by Andrew Schopp
For the first time in four meetings this season, the struggling Prince Albert Raiders downed the Medicine Hat Tigers with a 3-2 triumph on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Avoiding a season sweep at the hands of the Tigers, the Raiders have beaten all but one team in the Eastern Conference, the Calgary Hitmen, as they earn a valuable two points in their quest to claw back into the playoff picture.
With the Raiders holding the Tigers to 29 shots on Friday, Raiders coach Cory Clouston was pleased with his team's defensive effort against the team coached by his elder brother Shaun.
"They (Tigers) play a very structured game and it's almost like a game of chess," Clouston said. "Even though we spotted them a two-goal lead we didn't quit, we fought back together and we started to take over."
Things were offensively tepid in the opening period as the Raiders registered just a pair of shots on net before the Tigers finally answered back with their first over four and a half minutes into the frame.
With the Tigers outshooting the Raiders 7-5 in the defence-oriented period, the game's excitement picked up after Raiders forward Carson Perreaux delivered a big hit in the neutral zone resulting in a challenge by Tigers defenceman Dylan Bredo. The pair danced in a long, spirited bout to close off the first period with both team's scoreless.
The Tigers opened scoring just over three minutes into the second period when left wing Trevor Cox wired a wrist shot from the point past Raiders starting goalie Cole Cheveldave, appearing in his fifth straight game between the pipes.
Celebrating his birthday on Saturday, Tigers captain Curtis Valk notched an assist on Cox's goal, extending his point streak to 14 games, tying for the third longest in the league this season.
Adding to the lead about six minutes later, centre Steven Owre fed rookie right wing Markus Eisenschmid in the slot who wired a one-timer shot past Cheveldave.
Answering back less than a minute later on the power play, defenceman Sawyer Lange hammered a slap shot through traffic and past Tigers backstop Marek Langhammer to put the Raiders within one midway through the frame.
Saying the Raiders showed their character in overcoming the two-goal deficit, Clouston added that the team's all-around defensive play was tight, limiting the Tigers chances.
"The penalty kill and our defensive zone coverage was solid," Clouston said. "They hemmed us in a couple times but for the most part we kept them to the perimeter, defended well and made good on our chances."
With four and a half minutes to go in the period, the Raiders tied things up off centre Chance Braid's sixth goal of the season as they carried a 2-2 score into the third period.
The Raiders took the lead for the first time early in the third period as defenceman Josh Morrissey tallied his 19th goal of the season, putting him within three goals of Emanuel Viveiros' franchise record for most goals in a single season by a defenceman.
Morrissey was unaware he was so close to etching his name into the Raiders record book, but attributed his goal-scoring prowess this season to Clouston's leniency, allowing Morrissey to sometimes break from his defence-first system.
"He (Clouston) lets me romp a little bit," Morrissey said. "I can go up there and take chances and a lot of times we get rewarded, whether it's myself scoring or at least causing momentum. It's pretty cool to be in the running for a record, but I try not to think about it too much."
As the Tigers poured 10 shots onto the Raiders goal in the third frame, Cheveldave and the Raiders defence stood their ground to hang on for the Raiders second victory in five games.
The Raiders will have a chance to tick the Hitmen off their list, traveling to Calgary on Tuesday before they head to Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings on Wednesday at Rexall Place.
RAIDER NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Saturday were Jayden Hart, Brendan Guhle and Calder Brooks ... Hart is sidelined with an upper body injury, he is four points shy of 100 in his WHL career ... In the Clouston sibling rivalry, Cory Clouston posts a career WHL coaching record of 273-168-45 while Shaun Clouston's record is 172-134-23 ... The Tigers do not have any players on their active roster from Saskatchewan ... The race for the Raiders top goal scoring slot is tight with centre Leon Draisaitl leading the pack with 22 markers followed by forwards Reid Gardiner and Dakota Conroy tied for second with 20 and Morrissey not far behind with 19 goals this season.