In normal circumstances, Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Terrell Goldsmith would be using the 2021 Western Hockey League pre-season to get used to life at the major junior level.
However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and several other first round picks in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft got to suit up on a regular basis this past spring.
“It’s been a little bit different this time around for guys like me, Dallyn (Peekekeeot) and Tre (Fouquette) as we’ve had more time to learn about the systems during the pre-season instead of being thrown straight into game situations, but it is really nice to get back going again in these games,” Goldsmith said
“The biggest difference though is having fans again. It feels kind of weird, but it’s awesome to have people cheering us on again, especially the Raiders fans here in Prince Albert.”
The Fort St. James, B.C. product suited up for 14 games in the East Division Hub at the Brandt Centre in Regina, where he potted a pair of goals and earned the Raiders’ rookie of the year award.
“To be honest, moving up to the WHL was what I thought it would be like, as I expected to be going up against bigger guys and playing at a faster pace,” Goldsmith said.
“The overall speed of the game was probably the biggest eye-opener though. You need to move the puck quickly and make sure that you are playing your game.”
Goldsmith was also aided in his transition into the league by overage forward Justin Nachbaur and veteran blueliner Remy Aquilon.
“‘Nacho’ was a really nice guy and he was definitely a huge helping in introducing to all of the guys with the team,” Goldsmith said.
“Remy’s an awesome guy to watch on defence. He’s really smooth out there and he’s a good player to learn from.”
Prior to joining the Raiders, Goldsmith played for the Delta Hockey Academy and recorded 19 points in 23 games during his draft season in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League for the school’s Under-15 prep program.
“I just tried to work hard and listen to my coaches during my time there so that I could be ready for the WHL,” Goldsmith said.
“The CSSHL is definitely a strong league, but the WHL is absolutely unreal, especially with all the great players in it.”
Although he’s just 16 years of age, the six-foot-three 213-pound Goldsmith is projected to be a big piece of a Raiders blueline that returns all but one player (Graydon Gotaas) from last season’s lineup.
“To have that chemistry is huge, especially for a younger guy like myself as I get to take parts of their game and learn from the advice that they give me,” Goldsmith said.
“I think we’re going to be a hard team to play against, especially on defence when Guhle, Allan and Kosior are all back from their NHL camps.”
While Friday’s pre-season contest at the Art Hauser Centre felt more like a WHL game than the Raiders’ wild 8-6 win over the Regina Pats last week, the hosts came out on the wrong end of a 4-2 decision against the archrival Saskatoon Blades.
“It was definitely a lot more structured out there but we still have a long way to go,” Goldsmith said.
“There’s still some work that we need to do with our systems and we need to work on our passing more, but I thought our offensive zone play and our play in the defensive zone was a lot better than what it was previously.”
Netminder Ronin Geraghty, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans earlier this week, made an excellent first impression with the Raiders fans as he made 29 saves.
His best stop during a five-on-three Blades power play in the opening frame, as he lunged out to make a paddle save on rookie import forward Moritz Elias.
Kyle Crnkovic had a goal and two assists to lead for the Blades, who now have a 2-1 record in exhibition play, while linemate Brendan Lee had a goal and assist each.
Brandon Lisowsky and Pavel Bocharov also scored for the visitors, who received an 18-save outing from Nolan Maier.
Keaton Sorensen and Eric Pearce countered for the hosts.
The 1-2 Raiders will wrap up their pre-season slate Saturday in Warman as they’ll square off with the Blades in a 7 p.m. encounter at the Legends Centre.
Their regular season schedule will begin next Friday night when the Pats come to town for a 7 p.m. affair.
Friday’s contest marked the first time that the Blades have played in Prince Albert since Feb. 29, 2020, when the Raiders came away with a 3-0 triumph.
Tikhon Chaika, Carter Serhyenko, Nolan Allan, Kaiden Guhle, Landon Kosior, Reece Vitelli, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Vladislav Shilo and Tyson Laventure did not dress for the hosts, while Austin Elliott, Ethan McColm, Aidan De La Gorgendiere, Rhett Rhinehart, Tristen Robins, Yegor Sidorov, Jordan Keller and Colton Dach were not in the lineup for the Blades.
Dach’s status with Saskatoon was a topic of discussion on social media on Friday as J.D. Burke of Elite Prospects tweeted that the Chicago Blackhawks draft pick was looking to be traded.
- Kamloops 6 Vancouver 5 (Connor Levis Overtime Winner – One Goal and Two Assists – Game Played in Ladner, B.C.)
- Spokane 6 Tri-City 1 (Cordel Larson – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Winnipeg 5 Brandon 4 (Sequoia Swan – One Goal and One Assist)
- Calgary 2 Edmonton 1 (Tristan Zandee Overtime Winner – Carter Yakemchuk – Two Assists)
- Lethbridge 4 Red Deer 3 (Justin Hall – Two Goals)
- Regina 4 Moose Jaw 1 (Matthew Kieper – 36 Saves)
- Medicine Hat 3 Swift Current 2 (Owen MacNeil Overtime Winner – Cole Nagy – Two Goals)
- Kamloops 4 Kelowna 2 (Fraser Minten – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Vancouver 3 Prince George 1 (Payton Mount – Three Goals – Second Career Pre-Season Hat Trick – Game Played in Maple Ridge, B.C.)
Around the WHL
Weyburn’s Alex Clarke made history on Friday evening as she became the first ever female linesperson in the WHL during a pre-season game between the Regina Pats and the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Clarke, who will be a full-time member of the WHL’s officiating crew this year, recently worked as an official at the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in Calgary.
The 28-year-old has officiated games since 2017 in the SJHL, Saskatchewan Male and Female Under-18 AAA Leagues, U Sports Women’s Hockey and the Prairie Junior Hockey League.
A pair of WHL players inked entry-level deals Friday as Vancouver Giants forward Justin Sourdif and Everett Silvertips blueliner Ronan Seeley signed with the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes respectively.
The 19-year-old Sourdif was a third round pick by the Panthers in the 2020 NHL Draft and has posted 134 points in 147 games with the Giants since being picked third overall in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
Seeley, who is also 19 years of age and was selected 20th overall by Everett in 2017, has recorded 58 points in 138 contests and was a seventh round selection by Carolina last year.
On the trade front, the Brandon Wheat Kings have acquired forward Ben Thornton from the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for a second round pick in December’s WHL Prospects Draft.
The 17-year-old from Chilliwack B.C. was the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft and had a goal in 10 games for the Chiefs during the 2020-21 campaign.
Around the CHL
The Canadian Hockey League quietly announced on Friday afternoon that the Canada/Russia Series will not be held for a second straight season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
No hosts had been announced for this year’s event, which would have been the first to be held since 2019.
The CHL said they plan to hold the competition again in 2022.
- Brandon vs. Winnipeg – 6 p.m.
- Edmonton vs. Calgary – 7 p.m.
- Lethbridge vs. Red Deer – 7 p.m.
- Moose Jaw vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
- Prince Albert vs. Saskatoon – 7 p.m. (Game Played in Warman, Sask.)
- Swift Current vs. Medicine Hat – 7 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Kelowna – 8 p.m.
- Spokane vs. Tri-City – 8 p.m.
- Prince George vs. Victoria – 8 p.m.