Raiders season ends as Oil Kings complete sweep

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Andrew Schopp
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Published on March 28, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry makes a pad save while lying down early in the first period as Prince Albert Raiders forward Collin Valcourt looks on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders forward Chance Braid and Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Cody Corbett collide behind the Oil Kings net early in the second period  on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings Mitchell Moroz and goaltender Tristan Jarry celebrate Moroz’s goal in the second period  on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders forward Chance Braid attempts to deflect the puck in front of Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry in the second period  on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders forward Jayden Hart skates through the neutral zone as Edmonton Oil Kings forward Edgars Kulda jumps to strip him of the puck in the second period  on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders goalie Cole Cheveldave deflects the puck (seen at the far left) after Edmonton Oil Kings forward Mitchell Moroz guided the puck toward him late in the second period  on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. Raiders forward Leon Drasaitl can be seen in the background. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings forward Luke Bertolucci carries the puck into the Prince Albert Raiders zone with Brendan Guhle (#4) and Leon Draisaitl (#29) in hot pursuit during the third period on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Sawyer Lange and Edmonton Oil Kings forward Brett Pollock battle for the puck during third period action on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart swings around the net as Prince Albert Raiders forward Leon Draisaitl (#29) pursues him during the third period on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre.

Published on March 28, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar watches as Prince Albert Raiders goalie Cole Cheveldave pounces on a rebound during the third period on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. Raiders defenceman Brendan Guhle and Oil Kings forward Henrik Samuelsson can be seen in the background.

Published on March 28, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings forward Tyler Robertson chases the puck into the Prince Albert Raiders zone as defenceman Brendan Guhle prepares to swat it away d during the third period on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. 

Published on March 28, 2014

The pcuk heads over Prince Albert Raider goaltender Cole Cheveldave's shoulder into the net for a third period goal

Published on March 28, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders forward Collin Valcourt reaches in as he attempts to poke the puck away from Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar during third period action on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre.

Published on March 28, 2014

Members of the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Prince Albert Raiders shake hands at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert after the Oil Kings swept the series. 

Published on March 28, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders forward Dakota Conroy consoles teammate Collin Valcourt after their 6-2 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. It was the final game of Valcourt's WHL career. 

With high pre-season expectations and projections, the Prince Albert Raiders season came to a disappointing end on Wednesday.

Falling to the Edmonton Oil Kings 6-2 on Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre, the Raiders were swept in the opening round of the playoffs for a second straight season as the young franchise from Edmonton won a series 4-0 for a fourth time.

In his first season behind the bench, Raiders coach Cory Clouston was proud of his group's battle to get to the post-season.

"Everyone had written us off," Clouston said. "This isn't how we envisioned the season to end but they worked extremely hard."

Putting Raiders keeper Cole Cheveldave to work early, the Oil Kings opened scoring a minute and a half into the game as an awkward bounce off the boards found left wing Tyler Robertson who netted his second of the series.

The Raiders struck back midway through the first period, tying things up after the Oil Kings turned the puck over in their own zone  and centre Reid Gardiner scored his first with a snipe from the hash marks.

The Oil Kings restored the lead in the closing minutes of the first frame as the puck deflected off a body and past Chevedave. Defenceman Cody Corbett was credited with the go-ahead goal, taking a 2-1 lead into the second period.

Just under two minutes into the middle frame, Oil Kings left wing Mitchell Moroz extended his team's lead, but it wouldn't last long as Raiders left wing Craig Leverton put one in from the slot to make it 3-2.  

Clouston's assessment of  Game 4 and the three games proceeding it was that the Raiders failed to make the most of their chances throughout the series.

"You can't let teams as good as Edmonton off the hook," Clouston said. "Their experience probably helped them. It's not easy to win in the playoffs, we had our opportunities in those first three games and we didn't make good on them."

Working on a power play, Moroz tallied his third point of the night, feeding Corbett who gave the Oil Kings a 4-2 lead heading into the third frame.

Moroz kept things going in the third period, handing the Raiders a three-goal deficit a minute and half into the frame after Cheveldave struggled to control of a rebound which the Calgary native tapped in the net.

It was Moroz's second of the night that left the crowd of 2,727 at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday with the feeling that the Raiders season had just over 18 minutes of life remaining.

As the clock winded down, the Raiders inched closer and closer to a repeat of last season where they were swept by the Red Deer Rebels in the opening round.

Still, Clouston said this particular group of Raiders is a far cry from the 2013 crop.

"We played our best hockey at the end of the season and last year was probably the opposite," Clouston said. "The result is the same but I think the team is definitely pointed in the right direction and we showed a tremendous amount of character."

With six minute to go, Oil Kings centre Curtis Lazar put the game and the Raiders season on ice with a sixth marker.

Following the final buzzer and the ceremonial handshake between the two teams, the Raiders saluted the crowd as their season drew to a close.

With the 2014 season behind them, all that's left for the Raiders now are the questions of next season's roster.

While the fate of pillars Leon Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey remains uncertain, the Raiders know for sure that overagers Cheveldave, Graeme Craig and Collin Valcourt will not return as they move on to the next stage of their lives.

Upon the conclusion of his final WHL game, Valcourt reflected on his junior career.

"It's been unbelievable," Valcourt said. "Through Spokane giving me a shot when I was 17, getting traded to Saskatoon, playing in the Memorial cup, It's been such an amazing career for me."

Though the Raiders season came to an end on Wednesday, Draisaitl and several other Raiders in their draft year look ahead to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft June 27-28 in Philadelphia.

RAIDERS NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Wednesday were Ryan Coghlan, Brennan Riddle, Matteo Gennaro and Darcy Zaharichuk ... Back in the lineup for the Raiders was defenceman Graeme Craig who missed the first three games of the series due to injury. Craig played with a separated shoulder on Wednesday ... The Raiders entered Wednesday's tilt one-for-eight on the power play while the Oil Kings were two-for-seven ... On Wednesday, former Prince Albert Minto and son of Raiders associate coach Dave Manson, Josh Manson signed a two-year entry level contract with the Anaheim Ducks. The 22-year-old was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft playing with Northeastern University in the U.S. ... The Raiders have held the Oil Kings scoreless in three periods throughout the series.

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