With a goal of having a smaller training camp than in years past, general manager Curtis Hunt and the rest of the Prince Albert Raiders hockey operations staff were pleased by what they saw over the last few days at the Art Hauser Centre.
“We wanted to keep things intimate and blend in our young kids with our veterans,” Hunt said. “They got to see the speed of the game firsthand and the communication that our returning guys have with one another, plus they saw the nuances that come with playing at this level, such as taking shorter shifts.
“To have them share the ice with players who are going to be at National Hockey League camps over the next few weeks is huge. They are only a couple of years away from that themselves, and I think playing with those older guys just reinforces the work effort and the commitment you need to be on the roster here.”
The Raiders cut 32 players following Tuesday’s Green and White game, which leaves 29 players that have already signed Western Hockey League standard player agreements on the roster heading into the pre-season.
“There were a handful of players that we discussed about taking the next steps towards signing them,” Hunt said. “However, we understand that they have options and we want to make sure that both sides are on board 100 percent before we make that commitment.”
Hunt and the rest of the Raiders brass will now be keeping a close eye on how things play out during the team’s exhibition slate as they start to map out their final roster for the 2018-19 season, which will begin at home on Friday, Sept. 21 against the Regina Pats.
“We got some great battles for spots still and that’s going to continue throughout the year as players look to get more ice time,” Hunt said.
“The nature of sport is to have that absolute requirement to compete and play hard as your being evaluated at all times. You may not lose a spot in a short period of time, but if you are true to yourself and are accountable for your actions, you’ll be rewarded in the end.”
The Raiders will begin their pre-season schedule tomorrow night in a 7 p.m. battle with the Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre.