Oil Kings battle back to win Game 3

 

Edmonton can sweep opening-round series on Wednesday night at Prince Albert

 
 
 
 
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.
 

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.

Photograph by: Perry Bergson, Prince Albert Daily Herald

EDMONTON - The Prince Albert Raiders held onto the lead for most of Tuesday’s tight and physical game, and it looked like there would even be a Game 5 at Rexall Place on Saturday.

But the Raiders couldn’t seal the deal and the Edmonton Oil Kings proved why they are one of the best teams in the Western Hockey League, completing a remarkable comeback to win the playoff game 4-3 and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Raiders led 3-2 for a full 20 minutes toward the end of the game at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, but they couldn’t keep the Oil Kings off the scoreboard, with Edgars Kulda wiring the tying goal — his first of the series — to robbing Prince Albert of a crucial win.

Then Riley Kieser stepped up once again to become the playoff hero for the Oil Kings, holding onto the puck for an extra few seconds before ripping a shot past Raiders goalie Cole Cheveldave to complete the 4-3 comeback.

“For us, it was just a matter of getting more shots on net,” Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal said after the game. “I thought we did a good job of that in the third period.”

The third period featured an onslaught of shots and an Oil Kings team that was clearly focused on not just tying the game, but on winning.

“We were focused and came out and got a bit more intensity,” said Kieser. “I think it showed on the ice. We finished more checks, we got more shots and we got more opportunities to score and we did.”

The Raiders took a 2-0 lead after the opening period in front of a loud and boisterous home crowd, but it wasn’t enough to discourage the Oil Kings from tying the game quickly in the second period.

Captain Griffin Reinhart started things off for the Oil Kings, faking a slapshot and then slipping a quick pass to Brett Pollock, who took a slapshot himself and beat Cheveldave on the power play.

Reinhart continued to play his best offensive game of the series, proving he is a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the ice, picking up a drop pass from Curtis Lazar to tie the game up at 2-2.

“(Reinhart) was outstanding tonight,” said Laxdal. “He battled. He cut his nose when he got thrown down onto the ice (at the end of the second period) and was an absolute warrior tonight. We have to have 20 warriors every night, and he was the leader of them.”

The game was by far the roughest seen between these two teams in the playoffs. From the moment the puck was dropped, there were hard hits coming from both teams.

The game turned especially rough at the end of the second stanza, with gloves and sticks flying as the top lines from both teams engaged in a few last-minute scraps. A total of 20 penalty minutes were handed out, with the extra minor awarded to Prince Albert.

The animosity between the teams is growing with each game.

“The intensity is really starting to pick up,” said Laxdal. “We’ve seen a real hatred from both teams and so be it. Teams are battling to move on, you saw that in tonight’s game. It’s getting pretty ugly.

“I thought the refs did a good job of controlling it, but the team that has the controlled emotions is going to have the success.”

The Oil Kings return to the Prince Albert rink at 7 p.m. Wednesday to try to wrap up the series in four games.

“It’s going to be a push,” Laxdal said of what could be his team’s final game of the first round.

“They are playing for their lives right now and, obviously, we have to be at the top of our game. Our work’s not done yet. We need four to win and (Wednesday) night we’ll be shooting for that.”

Saints eliminate stubborn Crusaders

After forcing the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s North Division semifinal series to an exciting Game 7, the Spruce Grove Saints finally knocked off the crosstown rival Sherwood Park Crusaders with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night at Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove.

The Saints advance to the North Division final, where they will play the winner of another tight semifinal series between the Lloydminster Bobcats and Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Game 7 in that series goes Wednesday night at Fort McMurray.

Defenceman Corey Chorneyko led the way for the Saints, notching two goals and one assist as Spruce Grove finally won a series that few observers thought would go the limit. Dylan Hollman recorded a goal and an assist while Tyler Busch had two assists.

The Crusaders’ Tommy Nixon faced 45 shots and turned away 40, while Saints goalie Kenny Cameron faced only 23 shots.

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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.
 

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.

Photograph by: Perry Bergson, Prince Albert Daily Herald

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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