Hildebrand has game of his career to lift Raiders to 2-1 win in Portland
It was the Max Hildebrand show on Friday night at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as he was the main factor in the Raiders’ 2-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks. The netminder put in the performance of his WHL career, stopping 37 of 38 shots, a number of which were unreal saves. Oli Chenier and Krzysztof Macias both scored for the Raiders, as they improved to 4-2-0-0 on their seven game road trip.
Surviving some early pressure in their own end, the Raiders found the first goal of the game 4:06 into the first period. Amidst a line change, Oli Chenier brought the puck into the Portland zone and went on a solo mission. The rookie forward cut wide on a Winterhawk defender, and flipped the puck in the air as he cut into the left circle. From a sharp angle, Chenier fired a shot that fooled Jan Spunar, as he collected his second goal of the season to give the Raiders an early 1-0 lead.
The Winterhawks were handed three first period powerplays, but Max Hildebrand stood tall to the task, as he stopped all 12 first period shots that were thrown at him, including a great pad save on Josh Zakreski from point blank. At the other end of the ice, Prince Albert had two powerplays of their own, but failed to score on either attempt. One powerplay was cut short as the Raiders took a penalty partway through. Spunar stopped eight of nine Raider shots, as Prince Albert entered the second period with a 1-0 lead.
The two sides exchanged goals in the second period, as the Winterhawks started the action with the game-tying goal 8:20 into the middle frame. After hemming the Raiders in their own end for a while, Nicholas Johnson scored Portland’s first goal of the night. Taking a feed from Marcus Nguyen, Johnson ripped a shot from the slot that beat Max Hildebrand for the first time in the contest. Johnson’s fifth goal of the season tied things up at 1-1.
The Raiders found a response with nine minutes left in the second period, as the line of Niall Crocker and Hayden Pakkala set up Krzysztof Macias. From the slot, Crocker spun around and sent a pass on the doorstep for Macias, who fired a shot on goal. It looked like Spunar had made the save on the shot, but the puck trickled past the Winterhawks netminder and over the goal line. Macias picked up his tenth goal of the season, and it gave Prince Albert their second lead of the night, as it became a 2-1 game.
After being denied in the first period, Zakreski had a glorious chance to knot things up again for Portland. He got the puck right near the goal mouth with Hildebrand lunging across to get back to the puck. Zakreski took a shot that either went off the side of the net or Hildebrand got a piece of the stick on, but it stayed out of the net. A frustrated Zakreski headed back to the Portland bench after the puck went out of play on the shot, and it remained a 2-1 Prince Albert lead.
After 40 minutes of play, Hildebrand was tested with 24 shots, and he stopped 23 of them as the Raiders went into the third period holding on to a 2-1 lead.
The third period was the most entertaining one of the night without a doubt, as the Raiders and Winterhawks exchanged chances for the entire 20 minutes. The heat was turned up another notch with 2:30 left in regulation, as Jan Spunar went to the Portland bench to bring on the extra attacker. The Winterhawks set up shop in the Raider zone, but failed to put the puck in the back of the net. Hayden Pakkala had a monster block on Gabe Klassen on a scoring chance, but Max Hildebrand was the best player on the ice for the final 210 seconds. Hildebrand made an outstanding diving save late, and stood his ground to prevent Portland from finding an equalizer.
The final buzzer sounded, and the Raiders came away with a 2-1 win after a scorless third period. Hildebrand took off with first star honours, as he stopped 37 of 38 shots on goal, including a handful of highlight reel saves throughout the contest.
Prince Albert improves to 13-12-0-1 on the season, and will wrap up their seven game road trip in Wenatchee on Sunday night. Puck drop is at 6pm Sask time.