Masella, Protas and Watts also in leadership group
Since joining the team in 2016, defenceman Zack Hayes has learned a lot about what it takes to be a leader in the Western Hockey League from the likes of former Prince Albert Raiders captains Tim Vanstone, Curtis Miske and Brayden Pachal.
“All of those guys brought different things that I took a little bit from,” Hayes said.
“Tim was very outgoing, Curtis was a little more laid back and Brayden was a bit in between those two guys.”
After serving as an assistant captain last season, Hayes was officially named as the 43rd captain in team history on Tuesday.
“It’s something that I dreamed of and now it’s come true,” Hayes said. “To be named the captain is a great honour and one that has a lot of responsibility to it. There’s a lot of guys in the room that could have been named captain and I was lucky enough to be chosen.”
“Zack’s been through thick and thin since he’s been here and he has the respect of our group here,” Raiders head coach Habscheid said. “He’s a great kid that understands the culture here and he’s going to be a great captain.”
The 20-year-old from Calgary has 59 points in 217 regular season games for the Raiders and has five points in 30 playoff contests.
He was also an assistant captain on last year’s championship winning side, which also featured Pachal, Sean Montgomery and Parker Kelly in the leadership group.
“Being with those guys last year really helped me a lot and I think it helped me prepare for this situation this year,” Hayes said.
“I’m not the most vocal guy, but I’m looking to improve on that, and what I hope the guys can take away from me is the amount of hard work that goes into being successful at this level.”
The Raiders also announced on Tuesday that defenceman Jeremy Masella, and forwards Aliaksei Protas and Brayden Watts will be assistant captains this season.
Masella has been with the team since being acquired from the Victoria Royals in January 2018, while Protas is in his second campaign with the club.
Watts, who was acquired from the Vancouver Giants on Sept. 24, was an assistant captain with last year’s Western Conference champions.
“If you look at those guys, they are all winners,” Habscheid said. “The only one that hasn’t won a championship yet is Brayden, but he was a huge part of that team that went to Game 7 against us.
“All of us are on the same page with each other,” Hayes added. “We can bounce ideas off each other for any situation that we find ourselves in.”
Before the announcement of this year’s leadership group, the Raiders made a pair of minor transactions as they acquired the rights to goaltender Duncan McGovern from the Winnipeg Ice and dealt netminder Brett Balas’s rights to the Spokane Chiefs.
McGovern, who was reassigned to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Dauphin Kings in September and will stay with the team, has a 22-33-5-0 record with a 3.85 goals against average and a .878 save percentage in 66 career games.
Balas, who joins Lukas Parik and Campbell Arnold on the Chiefs’ goaltending depth chart, played in three games for the Raiders last year and was reassigned to the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons last week.
The Raiders dealt an eighth round pick in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft for McGovern and acquired a seventh round pick in 2023 for Balas.
- Kamloops 4 Swift Current 0 (Orrin Centazzo – Two Goals – Rayce Ramsay – 23 Saves – First Career Shutout)
- Medicine Hat 3 Saskatoon 1 (Ryan Chyzowski – One Goal and One Assist – Nolan Maier – 48 Save)
- Lethbridge 6 Moose Jaw 0 (D-Jay Jerome – Two Goal and One Assist – Carl Tetachuk – 19 Saves – First Shutout This Season and Third Career)
- Saskatoon 9 Calgary 3 (Eric Florchuk – Three Goals – First Career Hat Trick)
- Edmonton 2 Portland 1 (Carter Souch Shootout Winner – Sebastian Cossa – 31 Saves)
- Lethbridge 5 Regina 4 (Oliver Okuliar – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Brandon vs. Everett – 8 p.m.
- Swift Current vs. Kelowna – 8 p.m.