Kelly’s goal pushes Raiders past Tigers

Team raised more than $10K with char­ity jer­sey auc­tion night

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - SPORTS - EVAN RAD­FORD

De­fence­man Vo­jtech Budik has a knack for game-win­ning goals.

One night af­ter pot­ting the win­ner off of a rebound, Budik was the set-up man Satur­day night against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Budik found a wait­ing Parker Kelly on Tigers goalie Michael Bul­lion’s doorstep; he passed the puck across the Tigers’ slot area to Kelly, who hauled it in, skated around Bul­lion at the edge of the crease, and then buried the black rub­ber into the gap­ing net.

Kelly’s third-pe­riod goal, his third of the sea­son, proved the win­ner as the Prince Al­bert Raiders beat the Tigers 4-2 at the Art Hauser Cen­tre, im­prov­ing their record to 2-2-0-0.

Budik was skat­ing with the puck at the top of the Tigers’ cir­cle on Bul­lion’s right side. The Czech de­fender waited just long enough to draw Bul­lion out to the perime­ter of his crease, when he snapped the puck to his team­mate.

Kelly did the rest.

“I know the (defencemen) are told to look for sticks, and my job is just to get open and al­ways go to the net and be the pest that I am in front there,” Kelly said of the play. “So I think it’s been work­ing for us, and as long as I get open for the de­fence, they’re gonna put it on my tape.”

Sport­ing their Don Cherry-themed, tar­tan-plaid jer­seys with all-black pants and socks, the Raiders kept the pres­sure on the Tigers for most of the game, firing 36 shots at Bul­lion and cre­at­ing sev­eral break­away and odd-man rush op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Raiders’ goalie Cur­tis Meger got his first WHL start in net for the club, and he was solid through­out the game.

The 19-year-old rookie turned aside 30 of 32 Tigers’ shots.

“In our end we kept shots to the out­side, and I was see­ing the puck well, so it re­sulted in a win,” Meger said.

He noted how quickly the pace of the game went, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the Tigers’ speed.

“(They’re) a re­ally fast team com­ing down the ice off the rush. They like to make plays, so I had to be ready for that,” he said.

Meger stood tall in the dy­ing two minutes of the game when Medicine Hat, down 3-2, pulled Bul­lion in favour of gain­ing the ex­tra at­tacker in the Raiders’ zone.

Through a flurry of sticks, de­flected shots and blocked shots the Raiders goalie stopped all the pucks thrown his way, tal­ly­ing 12 saves in the pe­riod.

“You have to trust your (de­fence) at all times, but at the same time you have to al­ways know where guys are … you have to fight to see the puck, but I felt I did that well tonight,” he said.

At the end of the first pe­riod, the score was tied 1-1, with the Raiders cre­at­ing most of the mo­men­tum by keep­ing the puck in the Tigers zone for a ma­jor­ity of the pe­riod.

The frame in­cluded an early four­minute penalty kill for the Raiders, who man­aged to kill off the Tigers’ pow­er­play and al­low only two Tigers’ shots on net.

Af­ter Gary Haden scored for the Tigers at 14:30, Cole Fon­stad re­sponded with a floater of a shot that fooled Bul­lion, who lost sight of the puck, and found the back of the Tigers’ net.

The ice was tilted a lit­tle more to­wards the Raiders’ net in the sec­ond pe­riod: Medicine Hat upped its tempo through parts of the frame, even­tu­ally scor­ing the go-ahead goal, cour­tesy Max Ger­lach on the power play at 15:50.

Not to be out­done, Raiders’ 20-year-old De­von Skoleski evened the score at 2-2, ten sec­onds be­fore the pe­riod ex­pired.

As the puck was bounc­ing to the left of Bul­lion and Tigers de­fend­ers were try­ing to cor­ral it, Skoleski made a swip­ing dive at the puck, knock­ing it through Bul­lion’s legs and ef­fec­tively swing­ing mo­men­tum back to his side.

“I knew there wasn’t much time left, so I just thought ‘drive the net’ and luck­ily the puck popped out, and I just dove and got it,” he said.

Once the third pe­riod be­gan, the Raiders were firmly in con­trol for the rest of the game, cre­at­ing sev­eral chances and near-goals, lead­ing up to the Budik-toKelly score, which Max Martin also as­sisted on.

With 3.7 sec­onds to go in the game, cap­tain Cur­tis Miske buried the in­sur­ance goal on the Tigers’ empty net.

The Raiders wore the Grapes-themed jer­seys as part of a WHL-wide char­ity drive for or­gan do­na­tion. The team raised more than $10,000 through auc­tion­ing off the sweaters on­line and at the game.

The team has no games over the next five days, af­ter which it’ll head to Al­berta for games against the Leth­bridge Hur­ri­canes (2-2-0-0) on Fri­day and a re­match with the Tigers (2-2-0-0) on Satur­day.

EVAN RAD­FORD/DAILY HER­ALD

Prince Al­bert Raiders rookie Justin Nach­baur shoots on the Medicine Hat Tigers’ goal in WHL ac­tion Satur­day night.

EVAN RAD­FORD/DAILY HER­ALD

Prince Al­bert Raiders cen­tre De­von Skoleski skates on a break­away into the Medicine Hat Tigers’ zone in WHL ac­tion Satur­day night.

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