Prince Albert Raiders goalie Cole Cheveldave robs Edmonton Oil Kings left wing Tyler Robertson in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final on Saturday at Rexall Place. Stepping into the game midway through the first period, Cheveldave stopped 32 of 33 shots as the Oil Kings took a 1-0 series lead. Photo by David Bloom - Edmonton Sun
The Prince Albert Raiders triumphant march into the playoffs hit the brakes in Game 1 of the opening series as they fell 5-3 to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday at Rexall Place.
After Raiders rookie backstop Nick McBride allowed three goals on nine shots early in the first period, overage keeper Cole Cheveldave stepped into the game in relief, stopping 32 of 33 shots as the Oil Kings took a 1-0 lead in the conference quarter-final series.
The series' opening goal came just under four minutes into the first period as centre Brett Pollock banked the puck off the skate of McBride and into the net to give the Oil Kings an early 1-0 lead.
Just over two minutes after Pollock's opening marker, Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey responded with his first career WHL playoff goal to tie things up early in the first period.
Midway through the opening frame, the Oil Kings restored their lead after McBride thwarted a wrap-around attempt and defenceman Dysin Mayo chipped in the rebound.
As Pollock netted his second marker of the afternoon 14 minutes into the first period, McBride's playoff debut came to an end and Raiders coach Cory Clouston sent Cheveldave into the game.
In his first appearance between the pipes since March 12, Chelveldave embraced the relief role, keeping the Oil Kings off the board for the remainder of the first period.
With less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, Raiders defenceman Brandan Guhle blasted his first WHL goal into a wide open cage to cut the Oil Kings lead down to one heading into the second period.
After relinquishing the starter job to McBride late in the regular season, Cheveldave and his 20 games of prior playoff experience took the reins in the losing effort.
Cheveldave kicked off the second frame by robbing Pollock on a breakaway with a big pad save and was lights out until the closing seconds of the period.
With the Raiders working on their first power play of the game midway through the second period, centre Dakota Conroy fired a rebound past Oil Kings keeper Tristan Jarry to knot things up at threes.
Cheveldave continued to thrive as McBride's replacment until with five seconds to go in the second frame, Oil Kings left wing Tyler Robertson deflected a pass from Mayo to beat the overage keeper and carry a 4-3 lead into the third period.
Facing 13 shots in the third period, Cheveldave made save-after-save to blank the Oil Kings in the final frame.
With a one-goal lead, the Oil Kings clamped down into defensive mode, holding the Raiders to just nine shots in the third period.
Robertson's second period buzzer beater would stand as the game-winner as with about a minute to go, Clouston gave Cheveldave the yank for an extra-attacker and Oil Kings centre Curtis Lazar netted an empty-net goal with 52 seconds remaining to put the game on ice.
The Raiders will get right back at it as they take on the Oil Kings in Game 2 of the series on Sunday at Rexall place.
RAIDER NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Saturday were Craig Leverton, Tim Vanstone and Graeme Craig ... Craig remains sidelined with an upper-body injury sustained in a March 8 tilt with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Craig is not likely to return to action this season ... Saturday marked the opening of the first ever playoff series between the Raiders and Oil Kings ... The Oil Kings are gunning for a third-straight Eastern Conference title after falling to the Portland Winterhawks in the finals last season four games to two ... The Oil Kings entered the series with the Raiders with five skaters scoring 25 or more goals and a defensive unit which has surrendered a league-low 179 goals this season.