The first taste of international hockey is one that Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Wiesblatt won’t soon forget.
The Prince Albert Raiders rookies were both competing in Quispamsis and Saint John, N.B. this past week as they represented Canada at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
“It was a real eye-opener, especially to see just how much talent there is from overseas,” Guhle said. “The competition was great during the whole tournament and it was a lot of fun to be a part of.”
“For us to have the chance to play for Canada and for both of us to have leadership roles for our teams was unbelievable,” Wiesblatt added. “It’s something I’ll remember for a long time.”
In addition to playing alongside their peers, both players also got to showcase their talents against players from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
“You can tell that some of those countries are coached a little bit differently as many of those teams were more skill based than we were,” Guhle said. “It was fun to able to adapt to facing those teams and I think that should help me out a lot coming back to the Raiders.”
“It was really cool for me to play against some of the top guys in the world that are the same age as me,” Wiesblatt added. “Being able to play with them is a really good motivator for me to continue to put in the hard work to be up there with those guys.”
Wiesblatt, who was an assistant captain for Canada Black, had a goal and two assists in five games at the tournament as his team finished in fifth place.
“We didn’t get on the podium but we played hard all the way until the end of the week,” Wiesblatt said.
“(Saskatoon Blades forward) Kyle (Crnkovic) and I had some really good chemistry in the last couple of games, especially in the fifth place game (where Wiesblatt helped to set up two of Crnkovic’s three goals) so it was nice to end the tournament on a strong note and help the team get a win.”
Guhle, who was the captain for Canada Red, earned a fourth place finish with his team and had three assists in six games.
“It wasn’t the finish to the week that we had hoped for but I’m really proud of how we did at the tournament,” Guhle said. “Our team really bonded well together and we overcame some adversity to make our way into the semifinals.
“The quarter-final game against the United States was a crazy one to be a part of. We had played well in overtime during the round-robin so I felt confident going into it, and to be able to get the win over them was a pretty awesome feeling.”
Guhle was also part of a strange experience during his opening round-robin game against Russia, as the power went out in the third period and the remainder of the contest had to be played the following day.
“I remember being at a game that my brother Brendan was playing in a few years ago in Edmonton where the power went out but they kept on playing,” Guhle recalled.
“That was a first for me, but it ends up being kind of funny as you think back on it.”
Guhle and Wiesblatt are now ready to help the 17-1 Raiders continue their 10-game win streak, as both players are expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday night for a home game against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“We’re excited to be back here and help the guys keep going on this run,” Wiesblatt said.
Wednesday’s contest is the third of the season between the two sides, as the Raiders picked up a 5-3 win at the Art Hauser Centre on Sept. 28 and followed that up with a 5-1 triumph in Medicine Hat on Oct. 3.
After a 4-2 loss on the road to the Saskatoon Blades Tuesday, the Tigers sit in third place in the Central Division with a 9-9-1-2 mark and have lost their last three games.
Tigers forward James Hamblin saw a 10-game point streak, which had put him a tie with Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Connor Dewar of the Everett Silvertips for the second longest active streak in the Western Hockey League, snapped in the loss.
Raiders forward Brett Leason has the longest streak in the league with a point in 18 straight games.
- Tri-City vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Kelowna vs. Prince George – 9 p.m.
- Portland vs. Everett – 9 p.m.
- Moose Jaw 7 Tri-City 0 (Tristin Langan – One Goal and Three Assists – Brodan Salmond – 32 Saves – Fourth Career Shutout and First as a Warrior)
- Saskatoon 4 Medicine Hat 2 (Nolan Maier – 37 Saves)
- Kootenay 5 Regina 2 (Duncan McGovern – 38 Saves)
- Spokane 3 Seattle 2 (Luke Toporowski Overtime Winner – Ty Smith – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Edmonton 6 Lethbridge 4 (Trey Fix-Wolansky – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Tri-City 3 Brandon 2 (Connor Bouchard Shootout Winner – Riley Sawchuk – One Goal and One Assist)
- Red Deer 3 Swift Current 2 (Reese Johnson Overtime Winner – Joel Hofer – 44 Saves)
- Calgary 7 Kootenay 3 (Riley Stotts – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Everett 5 Kamloops 2 (Connor Dewar – One Goal and One Assist)
- Portland 4 Kelowna 2 (Cody Glass – Three Assists)
- Prince George 1 Vancouver 0 (Isaiah DiLaura – 26 Saves – First Career Shutout)
- Red Deer 4 Moose Jaw 3 (Reese Johnson Shootout Winner – Chris Douglas – Two Goals)
- Regina 2 Swift Current 0 (Max Paddock – 20 Saves – First Career Shutout)
- Saskatoon 2 Kootenay 1 (Nolan Maier – 31 Saves)
- Edmonton 4 Medicine Hat 3 (Brett Kemp Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Portland 3 Kelowna 0 (Shane Farkas – 26 Saves – Fourth Career Shutout)
- Everett 5 Seattle 1 (Connor Dewar – Two Goals)
- Vancouver 2 Prince George 1 (Trent Miner – 32 Saves)
- Spokane 7 Victoria 2 (Nolan Reid – Three Assists)