The chance to take on the top players from another country doesn’t come around every day.
So for Prince Albert Raiders teammates Parker Kelly, Brett Leason and Ian Scott, their experience at this past week’s Canada Russia Series in Kamloops and Langley, B.C. is one that they won’t soon forget.
“I think we all learned a lot from the event,” Scott said. “There are definitely lessons from the last few days that all three of us can take from it as we come back to Prince Albert.”
“The way that we played there is pretty similar to the style of game that we have here with the Raiders,” Leason added. “We both play a complete and simple game with a fast pace the whole time.”
Unlike his teammates, Scott has previous experience going up against international teams as he represented Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the World Under-18 Hockey Championship.
The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect got the start in goal Monday in Kamloops, as he turned aside 27 shots in a 2-1 win for Team WHL over Russia.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Scott said. “Russia definitely has a fast team, but I was able to get more comfortable as the game went on.
“Part of that came from getting used to what my teammates were doing in front of me. There isn’t a lot of time to practice together, so you have to adapt to what’s happening in the early part of the game.”
Leason played a big part in Monday’s triumph, as he had an assist on the game-wining goal by Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Jordy Bellerive.
“We forced a turnover at the blueline and I passed the puck over to (Edmonton Oil Kings forward) Trey (Fix-Wolansky),” Leason said. “He passed the puck back low to me and I was able to make a quick pass to Jordy, who was able to fire a quick shot off the post and in.
“The experience there was a great one. It was different from what I’m used to and it was a really fast paced game against a team that we don’t face that often.”
Kelly was in the lineup for both meetings against the Russians, who came away with a 3-1 win Tuesday in Langley to tie the series at one ahead of a game with the Ontario Hockey League Thursday night in Sarnia.
“I felt like were the better team overall in both games,” Kelly said. “They ended up getting the win Tuesday on a late goal, but I felt like if you look back on it, we had a few more Grade A chances.”
When asked what his thoughts were on the experience, the Ottawa Senators prospect was able to take away a few lessons both on and off ice from his time in British Columbia.
“Whenever you get a chance to meet a guy like (Moose Jaw Warriors head coach) Tim Hunter who’s been in the league for awhile and has had success at the World Juniors, you try to learn whatever you can from him,” Kelly said.
“Some of the media things at the event were new for me as well. It’s a bigger presence than your regular WHL game as you have Sportsnet and a number of other media members on hand.”
All three players are expected to be back in the Raiders lineup Friday at the Art Hauser Centre, as the number one ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League will play host to the defending WHL champion Swift Current Broncos at 7 p.m.
The Raiders will be wearing special camouflage jerseys for the game and the team will be doing a Remembrance Day tribute prior to the opening faceoff.
Friday’s meeting between the Broncos and the Raiders is the first of the year between the East Division rivals.
The Broncos went 6-2 in the season series last year, with the Raiders winning the last game between the two sides in a 5-4 shootout affair in Swift Current on March 2.
Despite sitting at the bottom of the WHL standings with a 3-14-0-1 mark, the Broncos are on a two-game win streak after a 4-3 overtime triumph at home over the Edmonton Oil Kings last weekend.
Earlier this weekend, the Broncos signed 19-year-old forward Ian Briscoe, who had five points in 45 games over the last two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The only player on the Broncos roster who is questionable to play Friday is Finnish defenceman Roope Pynnonen, who is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Meanwhile, the Raiders will be without the services of defenceman Lane Kirk and forward Kody McDonald due to injuries, while rookies Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Wiesblatt compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in New Brunswick.