Oil Kings mount late comeback to hand Raiders 3-0 series deficit

Andrew Schopp
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Published on March 26, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar works against Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey during third period action in Game 3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday evening. The two played together for Canada at the World Juniors. 


Published on March 26, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders forward Collin Valcourt and Edmonton Oil Kings forward Mitchell Moroz scrap during a spirited tilt at the end of the second period in Game 3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday evening. The Oil Kings won 4-3. 


Published on March 26, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders goaltender Cole Cheveldave deflects the puck into the air off his shoulder after a snapshot by Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar behind Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey during first period action in Game 3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday evening. Edgars Kulda of the Oil Kings and Raiders forward Dakota Conroy can be seen to the left. 

Published on March 26, 2014

Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Brendan Guhle and Edmonton Oil Kings forward Tyler Robertson race for the puck during third period action in Game 3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday evening. Calder Brooks (left) and Mitchell Moroz (right) can be seen in the background. 

Published on March 26, 2014

Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Ashton Sautner knocks the puck into the air off the stick of Prince Albert Raiders forward Calder Brooks during second period action in Game 3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday evening. 

Published on March 26, 2014

The Edmonton Oil Kings celebrate their game-winning fourth goal late in third period in Game 3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday evening.

A late comeback by the Edmonton Oil Kings has the Prince Albert Raiders in a familiar hole.

Just as they were last season around this time, the Raiders are down 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs following a 4-3 loss to the Oil Kings on Tuesday at the Art Hauser Centre.

In a conference quarter-final Game 3 that included 36 total penalty minutes, Raiders coach Cory Clouston thought there should have been just a few more bodies filling the sin bin.

"I thought there were a lot of calls that could have gone in our favour," a clearly frustrated Clouston said of the officiating on Tuesday.  "I'm not sure why they didn't, but they didn't."

The focal point of the Raiders frustration with the officiating was a missed tripping call in the neutral zone in which the Oil Kings took the puck the other way to net the game-winner with two and a half minutes to go in the third period.

It was a tough end to a game that started well for the Raiders.

The Raiders opened scoring on just their fourth shot of the game as centre Jayden Hart wired a wrist shot over the glove of Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry midway through the first period.

Just over two minutes later, the Raiders added to the lead as centre Leon Draisaitl stormed behind the Oil Kings goal and deflected a back hand shot off the body of defenceman Griffin Reinhart and into the net.

Hanging onto their first two-goal lead of the series, the Raiders rode the solid play of Cheveldave who stood his ground to render the Oil Kings scoreless in the opening frame for the second straight game, facing 13 shots in the period.

Looking to the overage keeper to carry the load between the pipes in the best-of-seven series, Clouston was pleased with Cheveldave's performance thus far.

"He definitely gave us a chance to win," Clouston said of Cheveldave who turned away 33 shots on Tuesday.

While applying steady pressure in the offensive zone, the Raiders were lights out in their own, holding the Oil Kings to a single shot until just over six minutes into the second period when defenceman Mackenze Stewart took a kneeing penalty to open things up.

On the ensuing power play, the Oil Kings cut into the Raiders lead as left wing Brett Pollock ripped a slap shot from the point past Cheveldave to put his team within one just under eight minutes into the middle frame.

After adding an assist to Pollock's earlier marker, Reinhart tied things up, beating Cheveldave with a wrist shot blocker side on a rush just over a minute before Chance Braid restored the Raiders lead with his first goal of the series.

With the Raiders responding to and containing the Oil Kings attack throughout the night, Clouston felt that his team deserved a better fate.

"I thought we played well enough to win," Clouston said. "It's very frustrating. Our guys worked hard, I'm not sure how to explain the last few minutes, but obviously we didn't finish the deal and they did."

Cheveldave stood on his head to close out the second period, making a series of dazzling saves on his back to carry a 3-2 lead into the third frame.

As the penalties continued to rack up, both teams ran into some penalty trouble simultaneously midway through the third period, treating the sold-out crowd of 2,881 to four-on-four play.

The Oil Kings made the most of the extra space on the ice, tying things up as right wing Edgars Kulda buried a shot top shelf over the shoulder of Cheveldave with six and a half minutes left on the clock.

About four minutes after Kulda's first of the series, Oil Kings centre Riley Kieser netted the game-winner to hand the Raiders a 3-0 series deficit for a second-straight season.

In the first round of last year's WHL playoffs, the Kelowna Rockets won four-straight Eastern Conference quarter-final games against the Seattle Thunderbirds to reach the second round.

Winning three straight games to get into the playoffs, Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey knows it's within his team to replicate the Rocket's 2013 feat.

"In our rink anything can happen," Morrissey said of Game 4. "If we have a crowd like we had tonight and  if we can come out the same way we did tonight and clean up some areas, you win one and it's a whole new series."

The Raiders will be right back at it for Game 4, taking on the Oil Kings on Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre.

RAIDERS NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders on Tuesday were Craig Leverton, Tim Vanstone, Brennan Riddle and Graeme Craig ... Craig is sidelined with an upper-body injury ... Overage forward Collin Valcourt leads the Raiders with 36 games of playoff experience. Raiders backstop Cole Cheveldave isn't far behind with 23 WHL playoff contests under his belt ... An eighth-seeded team has never upset the No. 1 seed in the first round of the WHL playoffs ... The Raiders have five players on their roster from the Edmonton area in Dakota Conroy, Jayden Hart, Matteo Gennaro, Darcy Zaharichuk and Brendan Guhle. 

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