Prince Albert, SK – The future of the highway 11 rivalry was on display Sunday afternoon in Prince Albert as the Saskatoon Blades young guns edged out the Raiders in a 4-3 victory. That gives the Blades two out of three wins in the exhibition season after opening the weekend with a split in Regina on Thursday and Friday.
It didn’t take long to get these two rivals reacquainted as Ethan Mack opened the scoring for the Blades just 37 seconds into the bout. Prince Albert net minder Ian Scott misplayed a routine puck resulting in the goal; Payton McIsaac and Chase Wouters had the helpers. The Raiders responded midway through the period to tie the game at 1-1. 15 year old net minder Koen MacInnes was making his first WHL pre-season start on the heels of signing a contract with the Blades last week and had to leave the game briefly for an equipment repair, and Nolan Maier was caught off guard just seconds after coming in for MacInnes.
The hometown Raiders would score twice in the middle frame, one of them coming short-handed. Saskatoon’s Arjun Atwal finished off a pretty play for the Blades only tally in the period leaving the Raiders ahead 3-2 after 40 minutes.
The fast and feisty play continued in the third period as it was clear both groups of rookies understood the animosity and storied rivalry of the Blades and Raiders.
After allowing a short handed goal in the 2nd period, it was Saskatoon’s turn to spoil a power play. Payton McIsaac joined a 2-on-1 rush on a short handed situation with Kyle Crnkovic and slipped the tying goal past Scott to make it 3-3. Then with under two minutes to play Michael Farren somehow squeaked one through Scott for the game winner, his 2nd point of the afternoon. Chase Wouters (2A) and Payton McIsaac (1G-1A) also had two points in the win. And definitely a memorable day for Koen MacInnes who made 24 saves in his WHL debut to earn the win against NHL draftee Ian Scott at the other end. Nolan Maier stopped 3/4 shots faced in 7:36 of work.
These two rivals will square off once again back at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday night, game time is 7:00pm. Then on Saturday the Blades and Raiders end their 3 game pre-season series in Warman at 7:00pm at the Legend Centre. Tickets for the Warman game are $10 each and available at the Blades office at SaskTel Centre or the Legends Centre in Warman. All proceeds will go directly towards Warman Minor Hockey.