Raiders finish strong
Midget AAA team rallied from two-goal deficit to beat Lloydminster 4-2 in the north division semifinal lid-lifter
Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 06:00 am
The St. Albert Raiders are in the driver's seat against the Lloydminster Bobcats, as the midget AAA playoff series switches to the Border City.
The 2012 provincial finalists can grab a stranglehold of the best-of-five north division semifinal with a victory on the road this afternoon after they rallied to beat the Bobcats 4-2 in Wednesday’s series opener at Akinsdale Arena.
“I don’t think we’re going to go in there and try and sit back, we’re going to go right at them,” said right-winger Sebastian Auray, who broke a 2-2 tie at 3:18 in period three on the power play. “If we just stick to our game plan the outcome will take care of itself. We’re a real good team when we play our game.”
The Bobcats were coming off a three-game series victory against the Leduc Oil Kings, with both wins at home, and the Raiders were playing their first game since Feb. 16.
“It’s great getting that first one out of the way. It’s really important,” Auray said. “We had a good crowd so I have to thank them. They helped us build momentum.”
The Bobcats struck shorthanded in the first and made it 2-0 on the power play at 1:23 in the second.
The Raiders replied with goals by Kyler Hehn, the team’s leading scorer in the regular season, and defenceman Tyler Dea before the period ended. Hehn scored 17 seconds after the second Bobcats’ goal.
“It was mostly nerves,” Auray said of the slow start. “After we got that first one we kept rolling. It was a good response by everyone.”
Auray was in the right place at the right time to score the game winner.
“Hehner put a nice shot on net and it just happened to go off my stick. It was more lucky than anything but I’ll take it,” said Auray, who assisted on Hehn’s goal to trigger the comeback charge.
Brett Smythe’s empty-net tally with six seconds remaining was his second point of the night.
The Raiders outshot the Bobcats 6-1 in the third but the visitors had the overall edge at 23-22. Mitch Martell was the winning goalie.
In the north standings only four points separated the second-place Raiders (19-9-6) and fourth-place Bobcats (16-10-8).
In the season series the Raiders won 5-2 on the road Nov. 25 and tied the Bobcats 2-2 at home Jan. 5.
“We knew what to expect from them and they did exactly what we thought they would do,” Auray said. “We practiced hard for two weeks (during the layoff) and we’re really well prepared for this series.”
Game three goes Monday at 6:45 p.m. in St. Albert.
If needed, game four is Wednesday in the Border City at 6:30 p.m. and game five is Friday at 7:30 p.m. in St. Albert
The winner will face-off against the Southside Athletic Club (22-6-6) or Sherwood Park Kings (12-11-11) in the best-of-five north final.
Last year the Raiders were the sixth St. Albert team and the first since 1998 to win the Joe Cherrington Memorial Trophy as the north division playoff winners.
In the best-of-five provincial final the Raiders lost three straight to the defending champions Red Deer Rebels, the eventual Telus Cup national champions.
The Raiders finished the playoffs at 6-5 after placing second in the north at 21-9-4.
Auray, 17, is one of five Raiders back from last year’s playoff run.
“It gets funner in the playoffs and you’ve got to enjoy it,” said the Grade 12 St. Albert Catholic High School student. “It’s kind of nice to build off that experience from last year and help everybody out that is new here.”
He is confident the Raiders will continue their winning ways.
“We have a good team again so we’re going to do pretty well. We’ve been real good defensively both years too. We’ve just got to keep it going,” said the team’s second-leading scorer with 14 goals and 32 points in 33 games.