What Happened - For a team at the bottom of the ladder looking up, for the most part they didn't look like that team last night. Yes, for long periods of time the Raiders held a territorial advantage but that's where Skapski came in. He was outstanding.
The Hits (Bad ones) - Late in the game, with the Raiders down only a goal, they self-destructed, taking two penalties that basically sealed the outcome. Raider forward Dakota Conroy sent Levi Cable into the boards awkwardly from behind that prompted retribution from Zach McPhee and then this scary elbow to the head of Brock Montgomery when he tried to cut to the shallow slot. Montgomery looked out before he hit the ice and then 17-year-old Jon Martin exacted some retribution of his own. Montgomery was injured on the play and Morden got the checking to the head major - Martin got the instigator in the ensuing fight giving the Ice a three minute power play to end the game. Given what Cougars forward Colin Jacobs got for his hit on Victoria forward Luke Harrison - 6 games - as Harrison was injured, I would imagine Morden will be hearing from the WHL office. Three games, minimum.
The Injuries - The Ice are young, yes, that's the theme this year but there's going to be very few of them who can even drive at this point. D Tanner Muth (upper body), D Joey Leach (Upper body) were both out last night and Leach probably won't play until after Christmas. I'd be surprised if Brock Montgomery wasn't out at least a week after that hit last night. That's both 20's (the Ice only have two) and a 19-year-old D-man out indefinitely. Injuries influenced both Drew Czerwonka and Spencer Wand to leave the game earlier this season.
The Deadline - With D Joey Leach out for the next few weeks and the WHL Trading Deadline January 10, have we seen the last of Leach in an Ice uniform? Given what was paid by the Kamloops Blazers earlier this week when they acquired 19-year-old D-man Joel Edmundsen from the Moose Jaw Warriors along with a 4th round pick in 2015 in exchange for D Tyler Bell, 15-year-old F Jayden Halbgewachs - the 19th overall pick in the Bantam Draft last spring - and the Blazers 1st round pick in 2015. That last pick could be a high one as the Blazers could be coming off the peak of their junior hockey cycle. So, that said, what would Leach be worth to a team looking to load up for a run? He's a 20-year-old which traditionally doesn't fetch near as much but in this market, who knows? The same goes for Montgomery when he gets a clean bill of health. There's no real talk of the club filling the 20-year-old spot left open by Czerwonka's departure and the kids are playing a ton. Let the speculation begin.
The Sophomores - Okay, Luke Philp is still technically a rookie but in my mind he played enough last season to shed that moniker. Both he and Jaedon Descheneau along with Jon Martin and of course Sam Reinhart were the top dogs for the Ice last night. Descheneau's goal to bring down the Teddy Bears and Mittens was a beauty. And yes, the highlightes are up right here (timely, right away! good job!). Somebody mentioned there was a hope the photogs got a forward picture of Descheneau's Teddy Bear goal. Bobby Orr-like as he sailed through the air as the puck went in, just before he went head-long into the post.
D-Line - Only five d-men against the Raiders last night - Dirk, Faith, Thomas, Simpson and Hubic - the latter of which I like better back there than at LW, where he's been for the better part of the last season.
McNeill - For a guy looking to make Canada's World Junior squad, he didn't play like it last night. He ended up with the second helper on the Raider's first goal but really didn't make an impact. The Blackhawks 1st Round pick certainly didn't play like one last night - or least did so inconsistently, at best.
The Goaltendering - G Mackenzie Skapski has to win games by himself sometimes and last night he almost did just that. Only this time he got some timely goal scoring to back it up. That performance should help the naysayers zip it, at least for a while.
Still don't know what Jaedon Descheneau did at school to draw the suspension from the team but let's hope that motivates him. He's got some real talent and an ability to control the pace and he did that last night.
The Ref - Brett Iverson was the first game I've seen at WFP this season with only one zebra running the show. Thought the faithful were going to run him out of town after giving the Raiders consecutive 5-on-3's in the third.
The Crowd - At 2282, not that good. The die-hards keep showing up but there's not a lot of traction when it comes to either attracting new fans or calling back the ones who used to go and put about 500 more in the seats on a regular basis. It's too bad, really. For a young team who is probably going to lose more than they win this season - for only the second time with the team in Cranbrook - they're fun to watch. Defensively? Yeah, it's a exercise in patience sometimes but the team is fun to watch in the zone and there's the odd tussle or two thrown in.
The club is in Lethbridge tonight against the Hurricanes before hosting the Kelowna Rockets for the only time this season on Tuesday at WFP. That'll be the last game before Christmas as the team embarks on a four-game roadie prior to the break.