The long road that is the Western Hockey League regular season is now mapped out for the Prince Albert Raiders.
Two days after the team announced their home opener on Friday, Sept. 20 against the Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre, the full 68-game slate for the 2019-20 campaign was released by the Western Hockey League Wednesday morning.
Following a home-and-home series with the Blades on the opening weekend and a road contest with the Regina Pats on Friday, Sept. 27, the defending Ed Chynoweth Cup champions will start their longest homestand of the season on Saturday, Sept. 28 as the Winnipeg Ice will make their first visit to Prince Albert since moving from Cranbrook, B.C.
The Raiders will host the Blades, Pats, Vancouver Giants, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Moose Jaw Warriors during the six-game run, which ends on Saturday, Oct. 12.
The team’s longest road stretch will be their biannual run through the US Division, which starts on Saturday, Oct. 19 against the Everett Silvertips.
They will take on the Seattle Thunderbirds, Portland Winterhawks, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs on the trip, which concludes on Saturday, Oct. 26.
The Raiders’ rematch against the Western Conference champion Giants, which will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 8, will be the first of five visits from BC Division teams this season.
The Memorial Cup host Kelowna Rockets will come to town on Friday, Dec. 6, with the Kamloops Blazers making the trip on Saturday, Dec. 14 in the Raiders’ final home game before Christmas.
The Prince George Cougars will visit Prince Albert on Friday, Jan. 10, which is also WHL trade deadline day, and the Victoria Royals will make an appearance on Wednesday, Jan. 29.
The Raiders will also renew acquaintances with their other two opponents from last year’s playoff run in November, as they’ll visit the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and welcome the Red Deer Rebels to town on Saturday, Nov. 9.
The Oil Kings first visit back to Prince Albert will be on Saturday, Jan. 11.
Another notable date on the schedule is Saturday, Jan. 4 as the Raiders will make their first trip to the Wayne Fleming Arena to face the Ice in Winnipeg.
The two sides will then play again at the venue the following evening.
The Raiders will conclude the regular season with two more meetings with the Blades, who they will face 10 times during the course of the campaign.
Their home finale will be held on Friday, March 20, with a rematch taking place the next night in Saskatoon.
Raiders trio headed to Hlinka Gretzky Cup camp
At the same time that the schedule was being released, Hockey Canada announced that Raiders forwards Jakob Brook and Ozzy Wiesblatt, along with blueliner Kaiden Guhle, have been invited to national men’s summer Under-18 team selection camp.
The camp, which features 44 players and will run from Jul 26-30, will determine who will represent Canada at this year’s tournament, which runs from Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia.
The Raiders and the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League both have three players going to the camp, which is tied for the most of any team in the Canadian Hockey League.
Ian Scott was the last Raiders player to compete for Canada at the tournament in 2016.
A total of 16 players from the WHL have been invited to the camp, with Yorkton product and Moose Jaw Warriors forward Ryder Korczak being the lone Saskatchewan-born player to earn a trip to Calgary.