It’s been an exciting 48 hours for Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Brayden Pachal.
After being serenaded Thursday for his 19th birthday by those attending the team’s annual golf tournament, Pachal was named as the captain for the Western Hockey League club Friday ahead of the start of training camp.
“It’s a pretty good birthday present,” Pachal said Saturday morning. “It’s exciting to be able to have the chance to lead the team this year as we try and win a championship.
“When you look at the list of captains this team has had and the history that goes along with that, it’s a huge honour to be part of that group.”
The Estevan product has been a part of the Raiders blueline since a trade with the Victoria Royals in January 2017 and has 38 points in 98 games with the team.
“Brayden’s a captain type of guy,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “He’s selfless, very mature, he’s intense when he needs to be, he’s calm when he need to be and he cares more about other people than himself.
“Sometimes you give the ‘C’ to a younger guy who is your best player and you expect them to lead. The great thing about Brayden is that he’s like a sponge and he wants to learn. He’s got a great foundation and we have to thank his parents for that.”
Although he last served as a team captain in his minor hockey days, Pachal was part of the Raiders leadership group this past season under former forward Curtis Miske.
“Curtis and I are really close so I’ve been getting a few pointers from him already,” Pachal said. “I was lucky to have Tim Vanstone as a captain when I first came here, along with Joe Hicketts in Victoria, who was great with the younger players like me.
“I think leadership is in all hockey players. It’s what gets us into the league and I think it’s what makes our team a good one. Even are younger guys have great leadership qualities and it’s what makes us close.”
The team also announced Friday night that forwards Parker Kelly and Sean Montgomery will be assistant captains this season, along with blueliner Zack Hayes.
“When it comes to those three, they are all on the same page and they think the same way,” Habscheid said.
“It’s unfortunate that you can’t give the ‘C’ to four guys as they all could have worn that letter along with Brayden. Then you add (Kody) McDonald, (Max) Martin and some of are younger guys to that mix and you have a whole group that could be wearing letters.
Kelly, a signed prospect of the Ottawa Senators, was an assistant captain with the Raiders last year with Pachal and graduated forward Jordy Stallard.
All four members of the Raiders’ leadership group will take to the Art Hauser Centre ice Saturday for the start of training camp, with the first scrimmage taking place at 6:15 p.m.