Tough going to get tougher

In 2013-14, an 86-point season would have been enough to claim top spot in the WHL’s East Division.

In 2016-17, an 86-point season would have been enough for the fourth and final playoff spot.

There’s no doubt the competition has heated up in the East Division, and Prince Albert Raider coach Marc Habscheid expects it to only get hotter.

“This year’s division is probably going to be the toughest in the league,” he said during a break at training camp on Friday. “You look at Regina, they’re hosting the Memorial Cup, and on paper, Moose Jaw’s probably ahead of Regina right now. Swift Current’s returning most of their team. Brandon has two World Junior caliber defenceman and some other really good players, and Saskatoon’s going to be much improved … so it’s a really tough division.”

Last year’s Prince Albert Raider club had a difficult time against their interdivisional rivals, finishing last with a 49-point season. While it may be tempting to speed up the club’s rebuilding efforts and be more competitive, Habscheid is preaching patience.

“We’ve just got to stay with the program, be patient (and) keep developing,” he said. “Obviously we want to win too, but at the same time, we’ve got to be conscious of where we are in our cycle.”

For the rest of this story, please see the Sept. 2 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Thierman Financial