January was a relatively quiet month of the Washington Capitals’ second round draft pick Aliaksei Protas. Since returning to the WHL from World Juniors on December 27th, the 6′-6′ forward had recorded just four goals and 13 assists in 18 games, including no gaoals in his last seven games. A significant drop-off from the scoring pace he set prior to departing for Belarus and World Juniors on November 23rd. However, Protas would end his goal drought in dramatic fashion Wednesday night against the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
“The Viper of Vitebsk” would register just one shot in the first 59:53 of the game, but his second shot of the game was a big one as he finally dented the twine with seven seconds remaining in regulation.
Protas camped on the doorstep in the waning moments of 6-on-5 play and knocked home an easy rebound for the tying score, sending the game to overtime. The goal was also Protas’ 100th point in the WHL.
Protas wasn’t finished. He would win the ensuing faceoff at the start overtime, force a turnover and score the game winning goal just seven seconds into the extra frame.
The win was the Raiders fourth straight.
“They outplayed us in the third period for sure, but then they started to get greedy when they tried to score on the open net,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told tje Prince Albert Daily Herald.
“They taunted us after they got a shootout win in Prince Albert (on Jan. 15) and they had a lot to say again today. Karma struck them there at the end. What goes around comes around and I wonder if they have anything to say to our guys now.”
For the game, Protas had two goals on three shots, was a +2 and 1 for 8 from the dot. Protas was also selected as the first star of the game.
Prior to tonight’s frantic finish in Medicine Hat, the last time that the Prince Albert Raiders tied the game in the final minute of regulation and won in the opening minute of overtime was a 5-4 road triumph over Brandon on Nov. 30, 2013.
For the season, Protas has 24 goals and 37 assists in 45 games played. He’s recorded 149 shots for a shooting percentage of 16.1%.
The Raiders, who are four points ahead of the Winnipeg Ice in the East Division of the WHL, will return to action on Friday when they visit to the Calgary Hitmen.
By Jon Sorensen