They won’t make their full-time debut into the Western Hockey League until 2019 at the earliest.
However, defenceman Nolan Allan and forward Tyson Laventure are getting a chance to learn on the fly before they start their tenure with the Prince Albert Raiders.
Allan, the third overall pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, and Laventure, who was a second round pick in May, both got a taste of major junior hockey Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre in the Raiders’ 5-3 pre-season loss to the Saskatoon Blades.
“It was nice to play with the older guys and see how fast they do things out there and the plays that they make,” Allan said. “It was a really interesting experience.”
“There were a little bit of nerves early on but those went away pretty quickly,” Laventure added. “It was awesome to be out on the ice tonight with the team and hopefully I’ll be able to play some more here before the pre-season wraps up.”
Although they were both held off of the scoresheet, each player learned a lot out on the ice over the course of Thursday’s affair.
“I thought my puck control could have been a little better at times, but I was happy with some of the passes that I made out there,” Laventure said. “I felt like I was able to make some heads-up plays during the game as well, so I’m pleased about that.”
“I think being able to have that experience of playing with the veteran guys in training camp helped us out a lot when it comes to what happens in a game,” Allan added. “My older brother Blake has been through this process already (as a third round pick in the 2016 WHL Draft by the Kootenay Ice) so that’s also been a huge help for me.”
Having already signed their standard player agreements in the off-season, Allan and Laventure were the only players from the Raiders’ 2018 draft class to stick with the team out of training camp.
“As the week went on, you could see both of them get progressively better,” Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt said. “Tyson scored a beauty in the Green and White game Tuesday night and he’s a player who can protect the puck well to go along with his skill and quick release.
“Nolan’s been good all camp and he’s been able to make his way up the ice to make plays and generate offence. I’m proud of the way they’ve played so far and we want to them take in as much as they can from this experience.”
For Laventure, who had 44 points in 30 games for the Okanagan Hockey Academy Edmonton Bantam Prep program last year, the next step for the Lloydminster, Alta. product is to move up into the Canadian Sports School Hockey League midget ranks this coming season.
“The biggest thing I want to do is get my confidence up and being here with the Raiders is going to help with that when I got back to OHA Edmonton,” Laventure said. “This has been a great experience for me as I now know what it takes to play in the WHL.”
As for Allan, who is from Davidson and had 44 points in 26 games with the Humboldt Bantam AA Broncos last year, he’ll be making the jump to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League this year with the Saskatoon Blazers.
“The growth that I’ve had in my overall knowledge of the game this week has been huge,” Allan said. “I think that’s something that will help me out a lot when I head to Saskatoon.”
Although they were outshot by a 39-24 margin, it was the Blades who would have the last laugh over the Raiders Thursday as they scored three unanswered goals in the third period on their way to the win.
Tristen Robbins broke the tie with 4:14 left on the clock, while Riley McKay, Braden Plaschewsky, Michael Farren and Washington Capitals prospect Kristian Roykas Marthinsen also found the back of the net for the visitors.
Blueliner Majid Kaddoura had a pair of helpers in the win, which saw Prince Albert product Marek Schneider earn an assist on Plaschewsky’s goal.
Netminder Koen MacInnes made 36 saves to earn the victory.
The Raiders were led on offence by Sergei Sapego and Justin Nachbaur, who had a goal and an assist each in the loss.
Spencer Moe had a pair of assists, while Carson Miller also found the back of net.
Brett Balas turned aside 19 shots in a losing effort.
The Raiders will be back in action next Thursday at 7 p.m. for another pre-season meeting with the Blades at the Art Hauser Centre.