Raiders tied up
Late third period collapse in 4-4 draw with Calgary Flames
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 31, 2012 06:00 am
Sunday’s tie felt like a loss for the St. Albert Raiders.
The north division leaders in the Albert Midget AAA Hockey League let two points slip away in the 4-4 draw with the Calgary Flames at Akinsdale Arena.
“We view it as a loss. We were up 4-1 with about 15 minutes left and in this league you can’t let a team like that come back,” said left-winger Dan Huculak.
The Flames (5-2-3) pulled even with three goals in the last 3:37 minutes, including a pair 22 seconds apart in the last minute of play with netminder Nick Crisanti on the bench for the extra attacker.
The equalizer was scored by the league’s top scorer, Madison Dunn, with three seconds to go.
“In practice we go over what we’re supposed to do in those situations and we didn’t do that,” said Huculak.
His third goal of the season made it 4-1 with 16:29 to play.
“We didn’t play for a full 60 minutes. The last 10 or 15 we just gave up and stopped playing our game,” said the Spruce Grove product.
The Raiders broke open a scoreless affair in the second on goals by Sebastian Auray, captain Tyler Mrkonjic and Harrison Klein with one second left in the frame.
“We had a great first two periods and in the third period we were still working hard up to the last 10 minutes and then we started running around a little bit, kind of desperation like to get the puck out,” Mrkonjic said.
The puck bounced the right way for the Flames with time winding down.
“It’s part of hockey. Sometimes things happen like that,” Mrkonjic said. “It’s a game we have to learn from and just build off it. We’ve got to make sure we’re getting pucks out and working our ass off so those things we did in the third don’t happen.”
In the third the Flames netted four goals on 10 shots against Pat Gora (2-1-2, 3.00 GAA). Shots overall were 26-19 for the Raiders.
The previous night the Raiders beat the Rangers 5-1 in Fort Saskatchewan. Matteo Gennaro tallied at even strength and on the power play. Huculak (shorthanded), Kyler Hehn and Brett Smythe also lit the lamp before the Rangers (1-8-1) broke Mitch Martell’s shutout bid with 2:48 to play. The Raiders outshot the home team 38-27.
“We played great for the first 40, 50 and then the last 10 we stopped skating. We thought we had the lead and we didn’t have to do anything,” Huculak said. “In this game we played the same way at the end but against a better team and they made us pay. The Fort is last in the league and we know they’re not going to do that but this team has got the top two scorers (in the league) and they’re one of the best teams on offence and we can’t let that happen.”
The tie ended a four-game winning streak for the 6-1-3 Raiders.
“Our team has been working hard and progressing. We’re getting better and better. It’s good to see and it starts in practice. Every guy is working hard and we try and make it seem like a game,” said Mrkonjic, 16, a right winger who skates on a line with Hehn (team-high seven goals and 14 points) and Gennaro (six goals in three games).
Mrkonjic, a Grade 11 Bellerose Composite High School student, has recorded six goals and four assists as the inspirational leader for the 2012 provincial finalists.
Huculak, Hehn, Auray and defenceman Tyler Dea are also back from the team’s second-place 21-9-4 finish in the north and 6-5 playoff record.
Huculak, 17, rejoined the Raiders after a six-game stint with the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He picked up four points last weekend working alongside Auray (six goals and seven assists) and Smythe (eight assists in 10 games).
“Last year I was pretty much a PK guy playing third or fourth line and creating some energy. This year though I worked hard all summer to make myself better and now I’m more of a PK and power play player,” said Huculak, a Grade 12 student at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic High School.
This weekend the Raiders host the Southside Athletic Club (5-2-2) Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and the Lethbridge Pronghorns (6-3-1) Sunday at 3:45 p.m. The team’s home record is 3-1-2.