Hitmen top Raiders in OT thriller
The kids are alright.
That veteran newcomer between the pipes isn’t so bad himself.
Rookie defenceman Vladislav Yeryomenko notched the overtime winner and goalie Trevor Martin made 25 saves in his Hitmen debut as the Calgary Hitmen snapped a five-game skid with a 5-4 road win over the Prince Albert Raiders tonight at Art Hauser Centre.
Justyn Gurney, Andrei Grishakov, Brady Reagan and Jakob Stukel also scored for the Hitmen, who have taken two out of three meetings with the Raiders this season.
Adam Kadlec, Kolten Olynek, Cavin Leth and former Hitmen Jordy Stallard in his Raiders debut replied for basement-dwelling Prince Albert (8-31-2-2), which dropped its seventh straight decision.
“It was perfect,” said the well-travelled puckstopper Martin. “I felt a little rusty, and I wish I could have one or two of the goals back, but overall it was nice to get this one out of the way.
“The boys battled hard, blocked a lot of shots, and pulled out the ‘W’.”
Martin, who ironically backstopped the Red Deer Rebels to a five-game first round series win over the Hitmen last spring, had been tending net for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar before being plucked off waivers by Calgary Tuesday afternoon.
“Only a handful of guys get to experience going across the country to play junior so I felt fortunate to play there,” said the 20-year-old Ardrossan, AB native, who was seeing his first game action since Dec. 17 vs. Chicoutimi. “I thought I played well, picked up a few wins, but it’s definitely nice to be able to come back home and play in front of family and friends again.”
A pair of youngsters connected to get the Hitmen on the board first when 16-year-old Gurney, from Tristen Nielsen, snapped a scoreless contest at the midway point of the first period by shoveling in a loose puck at the side of the Raiders net.
“I was pretty happy to see that one trickle in,” said Gurney, who was added to Calgary’s roster just last week after skating in six games earlier this season as an affiliate player. “I thought the guys settled in and played really well tonight after a bit of a crazy Tuesday with the trade deadline.
“Overall, it was just a solid win that will make for a happy bus ride home.”
Grishakov extended Calgary’s lead to 2-0 less than three minutes later when the rookie import escaped a check from behind the net and banged in a rebound short side for his fifth goal of the season.
Just over two minutes into the second frame, however, Kadlec cut Calgary’s lead in half when he put the finishing touches on a two-on-one with Cole Fonstad.
With the Hitmen caught on a bad line change, Raiders veteran winger Olynek evened the affair at 10:53 of the second period when he broke in alone and chipped a shot over the outstretched blocker of Martin.
Calgary regained its lead less than three minutes later, though, when Reagan accepted a feed in the high slot from Mark Kastelic and beat Raiders goalie Ian Scott for his first goal in a Hitmen uniform. Andrew Fyten, fresh off a first period tussle with Zack Hayes, also chipped in with an assist on the play.
Stukel extended Calgary’s lead to 4-2 only five seconds into the third period by rifling an unassisted shot to the top shelf for his 13th goal of the season.
Stukel’s marker was one second shy of the WHL record for fastest goal to start a period, which former Hitmen Mike Piersol shares with Ryan Wade (Kelowna, 1996) and Gary Yaremchuk (Portland, 1980). Piersol netted a goal four seconds into the second period of a 6-4 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Feb. 24, 1996.
Stallard, who Calgary dealt to the Raiders along with a 2017 seventh-round pick in exchange for 18-year-old left wing Luke Coleman and a fourth-round selection in 2018 during Tuesday’s trade deadline, pulled the Raiders within one at 8:15 after Martin had made not one but two big stops before the former Hitmen jammed in his ninth goal of the season on the doorstep.
Prince Albert erased a two-goal deficit for the second time of the contest when Leth, streaking to the net, buried a cross-ice pass from Curtis Miske with 6:04 remaining in regulation.
Martin’s counterpart Scott allowed five goals on 32 shots in a losing effort for the Raiders.
Calgary went 0 for 1 on the power play while holding Prince Albert scoreless on three opportunities.
The Hitmen (15-19-4-2) return home Saturday to host the Prince George Cougars on Faith & Family Night. Game time at the Scotiabank Saddledome is 7 p.m.