Raiders take ti­tle

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The host Raiders won only their sec­ond home tour­na­ment in 29 years

The Swift Cur­rent AA Ban­tam Ka­bos Raiders de­fied his­tory and treated spec­ta­tors to a wild cham­pi­onship fi­nal Sun­day af­ter­noon in a 7-6 win over Lloy­d­min­ster to win their home tour­na­ment for only the sec­ond time in 29 years.

Raiders cap­tain Zac Mackay scored with 4:27 left to put the Raiders ahead for good in a game that the Raiders held eight dif­fer­ent leads of one or two-goal va­ri­eties only to see Lloy­d­min­ster fight back to tie the game on three dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions in­clud­ing forc­ing a 6-6 dead­lock with 7:06 re­main­ing.

"It is great in there," saidMackay out­side a rowdy Raiders dress­ing room. "Th­ese guys are a good team, we played them in the round robin and lost to them but we knew that we could bat­tle back and beat them, so it feels re­ally good."

He said the Raiders worked as a team to over­come a lot of ad­ver­sity dur­ing the con­test.

"We are a team and we work as a team so as soon as one guy goes down we all go down. But when one guy goes up we all go up. So we just rose to the chal­lenge and we pulled it off."

"It was pretty ex­cit­ing, I went down on a two-on-one and I tried to get it to the other guy and it just bounced right back. For­tu­nately I put it in the net," said Mackay of his game win­ner that he back­handed through the five-hole to com­plete a five-point out­ing along with four as­sists.

One of the game's many turn­ing points came mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod when the Raiders were the bene­fac­tor of a five-minute pow­er­play af­ter Lloy­d­min­ster took a match penalty for cross-check­ing. The Raiders would score three times on the pow­er­play but al­lowed a short­handed goal and an­other while four-on-four af­ter tak­ing a penalty mid­way through the pow­er­play. The two teams en­tered the pow­er­play tied 2-2 and emerged with a 5-4 Swift Cur­rent lead.

The Raiders took the 5-4 lead to the dress­ing room but al­lowed a goal with 11:48 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion for a 5-5 tie. Only 23 sec­onds later though Chace Nel­son scored his sec­ond goal of the game for a 6-5 lead but 4:19 later Lloy­d­min­ster tied the game 6-6 to set the stage forMackay's hero­ics.

Justin Spa­grud was named the game's MVP with two goals, while Spencer Wand added a goal and three as­sists. Ge­orge Hudec also added a sin­gle goal.

Jor­danWittman had a pair of helpers, fol­lowed by sin­gles from Tim Van­stone, JoshWik, and goal­tender Kade Behm.

“I can’t be­lieve it, it is the sec­ond time in I think 29 years or some­thing. Every­one is just happy. We knew that we could beat any team here and we are psyched,” said Behm, who was named the tour­na­ment’s Top Goal­tender. “We are a team and we have bat­tled through a lot of stuff. This team can do any­thing once we put our mind to it. I thought that we just bat­tled hard and went out there and gave it our all,” he con­tin­ued.

Head coach Kent Woods was proud of the way his team bat­tled through ad­ver­sity through­out the cham­pi­onship game and dur­ing the en­tire week­end.

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“When you look back at it Justin Spa­grud was the Top For­ward and Zac Mackay was the MVP, we were deep this week­end though. Dal­ton Menke, for me would have been my top for­ward all week­end and again Chace Nel­son was right there. That is how you face ad­ver­sity is hav­ing every­one step up and this week­end we had 9, 10, 11 guys up front, six D-men and both goal­tenders and that is how you face ad­ver­sity is have ev­ery­body com­pet­ing.”

Woods coached the Raiders to their only other home ti­tle in 2005 and af­ter a few sea­sons with the AAA Midget Le­gion­naires he is proud of his team’s progress in his first sea­son back be­hind the Raiders bench.

“I think that at the start of the year we were a team that re­lied a lot on two guys andwe were very in­di­vid­ual. This team now, I guess the word would be ‘gelling’ and we are start­ing to come along as a team and ev­ery­body is chip­ping in and that is what we want to see. They are en­joy­ing the game and be­ing more phys­i­cal. At the start of the year we were prob­a­bly lay­ing three body­checks and now if they don’t lay three in a shift the guys are mad at them­selves so we have come a long ways since the start of the sea­son for sure.”

A 5-4 shootout win on Sun­day morn­ing sent the Raiders into the 'A' fi­nal at their home tour­na­ment. The nail-bit­ing semi-fi­nal win over Cam­rose set up a re­match against Lloy­d­min­ster in the fi­nal.

Satur­day af­ter­noon Spa­grud's goal with 13:37 re­main­ing in the third pe­riod lifted the Raiders to a 4-3 win over the Moose Jaw War­riors and into the semi-fi­nal.

Play­ing their sec­ond game of the day only 15 min­utes af­ter fall­ing 4-3 to Lloy­d­min­ster, the Raiders over­came ex­haus­tion to de­feat their league ri­vals in a hard-fought bat­tle.

The Raiders opened the tour­na­ment Fri­day af­ter­noon with a 10-0win over Taber, fol­lowed by a 7-1 win over Unity later that evening.

Spa­grud was named the tour­na­ment’s Top For­ward, while Lloy­d­min­ster’s Colton Waltz was named the Top De­fense­man.

This week­end the Raiders will be on the road to face the Lums­den/Bethune Lions and the Bal­go­nie Prairie Storm as they look to im­prove on their 6-1-1 record in the South Sask Hockey League.

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