Saturday was a day that Kaiden Guhle had been waiting for all summer.
The first overall pick in the 2017 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft took to the ice at the Art Hauser Centre with the rest of the Prince Albert Raiders for the start of a training camp that he hopes will lead him to making his full-time debut with the team in September.
“I’ve been working hard since last season ended to get ready and prepared for coming to Prince Albert,” Guhle said.
“I’m really excited to be here and get things started off here in what will hopefully be my first WHL season.”
The younger brother of former Raiders blueliner and Buffalo Sabres prospect Brendan got a taste of major junior action last year as he played in eight games and had one assist as an affiliated player.
“I was able to take a look at the games I played in with the Raiders and saw some things that I needed to work on in order to get ready for this year,” Guhle said.
“The biggest thing was just getting ready for the speed of the game in the WHL, so I made sure that I focused on moving the puck quicker along with getting bigger and stronger.”
The Sherwood Park, Alta. product has spent the last two seasons with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Edmonton program in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League.
After posting 40 points in 30 games in his bantam draft year, Guhle had 39 points in 35 games this past season with the school’s prep program and earned his second straight top defenceman honour from the CSSHL.
“Playing in that league really helps prepare you for junior hockey,” Guhle said.
“In the Alberta Midget Hockey League you don’t travel quite as much, but in a weekend with OHA Edmonton you have three to 12-hour bus rides and it really helps you get ready for gearing up for a game after a long travel day.”
Another experience that helped Guhle came in July as he took part in Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Development Camp in Calgary, which helps to determine who will play for one of three national teams at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge later this year in New Brunswick.
“It was a really good experience to play against the best players in Canada in my age group,” Guhle said.
“Everyone is so fast and skilled so it’s completely different from anything you experience in midget hockey. There wasn’t a bad player at the camp.”
Saturday saw one scrimmage take place as Team Gold topped Team Orange 5-2.
Brett Leason had a pair of goals for Team Gold, while Sean Montgomery, Aliaseki Protas and Joseph Cesario also found the back of the net.
Cole Fonstad and Nikita Krivokrasov replied for Team Orange.
A pair of scrimmages, which are free for the public to attend, are slated for Sunday at 11:15 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.