Allan using bubble experience as preparation for World Under-18’s

Photo Courtesy of Keith Hershmiller/WHL Nolan Allan controls the puck for the Prince Albert Raiders during a game at the Brandt Centre in Regina.

Although the 2020-21 Western Hockey League season has been different than any on record, the frantic pace of the 24-game schedule has allowed players to get a ton of ice time over the last month.

For Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Nolan Allan, the return to action has allowed him to prepare for the biggest event of his career to date, as he’ll suit up for Canada at the IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship from April 26 to May 6 in Frisco and Plano, Texas.

“I’ve been learning new things and trying to improve every day,” Allan said following the Raiders 4-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos on Sunday in Regina. “I’ve been trying to add more things to my game to make myself a better player and carry that over into the Under-18’s.

“It’s definitely been a different experience this year though. This (the East Division bubble in Regina) is a first for everyone and I’m sure it’s something we’re all going to look back on. We’ve made a lot of memories here.”

The 17-year-old from Davidson, who is currently self-isolating at home before traveling to Texas later this week, had a goal and an assist in 16 games this year for the Raiders.

He had eight points in 58 games during his rookie campaign and also recorded five points in five games this past fall when he was loaned out to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s La Ronge Ice Wolves.

“Nolan’s done well with the added responsibilities that he’s had this year,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said last week. “He’s not going to be a 50-goal guy, but he’s defended well for us and he’s a good puck mover.”

“I’ve learned a lot of things at both ends of the ice this year,” added Allan, who is eligible to be selected at the NHL Entry Draft in July. “I’ve been playing with urgency, playing a physical game and making sure that I’m getting up the ice as quick as possible.”

Allan will be the first Raiders player to represent the club at the World Under-18’s since 2018, when Cole Fonstad suited up in five games.

He’s previously represented his country at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and was named to the camp roster for last year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having the chance to play at the Under-17’s and be invited to the national camps has helped me out a lot,” Allan said. “I’ve been able to learn what Hockey Canada’s all about and how they run things, which is something that I can use going forward.”

Normally, Canada’s roster for the Under-18’s isn’t as strong as their squad at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which takes place during the summer and not during the Canadian Hockey League playoffs.

Although the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League did not release their players due to their upcoming post-season, a bevy of top talents across the country will be able to compete at the tournament.

Among the big names on the roster are forwards Connor Bedard (Regina Pats), Dylan Guenther (Edmonton Oil Kings), Cole Sillinger (Medicine Hat Tigers – Currently playing with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede), Logan Stankoven (Kamloops Blazers) and Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs), along with blueliners Brandt Clarke (Barrie Colts) and Corson Ceulemans (Brooks Bandits).

Defenceman Carson Lambos of the Winnipeg Ice was named to the roster earlier this month, but will not participate due to injury and has be replaced by Moose Jaw Warriors rookie blueliner Denton Mateychuk.

Canada, who last won the tournament in 2013, will open up their round-robin schedule on Tuesday, April 27 against Sweden at 7 p.m.

The event will also air nationally on TSN.