Raiders and Blades to square off in season opener

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Zack Hayes shoves Saskatoon Blades forward Ryan Hughes off of the puck while Kirby Dach watches on during Game 2 of their WHL Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Art Hauser Centre in April.

The Prince Albert Raiders will be welcoming a familiar foe when they raise their 2019 Western Hockey League championship banner to the rafters at the Art Hauser Centre.

The team announced Monday that the Saskatoon Blades will serve as the Raiders’ opponent at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20 for their first game of the 2019-20 WHL campaign.  

The East Division rivals will then complete their home-and-home set on Saturday, Sept. 21 in a 7 p.m. contest as the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.

The Raiders posted a 6-2 record in last year’s season series with the Blades and also beat them in six games in a best-of-seven matchup in the Eastern Conference semifinal round.

The full 2019-20 regular season slate for the Raiders will be announced on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m.

In other Raiders news, incoming rookie defenceman Nolan Allan and forward Tyson Laventure were among the 112 players that have been invited to Hockey Canada’s Under-17 development camp, which will take place in Calgary from July 19-26.

The camp will help to determine who will be on the three Canadian teams at this year’s World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, which will be held from Nov. 2-9 in Medicine Hat and Swift Current.

Allan, who is from Davidson, is one of two Saskatchewan born players at the camp as he’ll be joined by Regina product and Medicine Hat Tigers forward prospect Cole Sillinger.

Among those taking part in the camp are 2004-born forwards Matthew Savoie and Shane Wright.

Savoie, who signed his standard player agreement with the Winnipeg Ice earlier this month, is expected to make his full-time WHL debut in the 2020-21 campaign.

Wright, who was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada earlier this year, will start his major junior career this fall with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs.

Meanwhile, Raiders forward Cole Fonstad was one of 43 players that have earned an invite to Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team Development Camp, which will be held in Plymouth, Mich. from July 27 to Aug. 4.

The players will be split into two teams for the camp and play against Finland, Sweden and the United States during the week, as Hockey Canada brass begins the process of determining the roster for the 2020 World Juniors in the Czech Republic.

Prince Albert product Braden Schneider, who is gearing up for his third season on the Brandon Wheat Kings blueline, is one of 12 WHL players to earn an invited to the camp.