Raiders face Wheat Kings for the first time in four months
After wrapping up a three-game road trip with an eighth-round shootout win over the Kootenay Ice, the Prince Albert Raiders are back in town this week to face off against a longtime rival they haven’t seen in some time.
The Raiders take on the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday night. This is the first time the teams are meeting since splitting two back-to-back, home-and-away matches on Oct. 14 and 15. As the teams approach the end of the season they will become better acquainted with one another, however, as they are due to play the final four games of their six-game season series in February and March.
“Everyone likes playing at home and there’s always rivals and there’s no doubt Brandon is a rival of ours, has been a rival for many years dating back to the Dave Manson days,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.
“They’re a good team but we’re playing pretty well right now. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Raiders are facing a Wheat Kings team comfortably seated in the top Eastern Conference wild card position. Habscheid said team play is key to gaining an edge in the season series.
“They’ve got a good offensive team. They’ve got some high-end players like (Kale) Clague and (Nolan) Patrick and they’ve got more than those guys but those are two marquee guys and you just can’t let them run free,” he said.
“But at the same time they’ve got other players that can play, too, (Reid) Duke, those types of guys, so we have to play a real solid game, a good, team game. We’re out some guys with injuries so we have to play real solid as a team.”
Injuries have been a challenge for the Raiders as of late. Last month Simon Stransky was sidelined for two weeks, and just before the team left on its Central Division road swing it was announced that leading scorer Jordy Stallard underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. To add insult to injury, the team revealed on Friday that forwards Drew Warkentine and Carson Miller will likely miss the rest of the year as well due to a lower-body injury and shoulder surgery respectively. Habscheid said those absences allow other players to step up and fill in the gaps.
“They’ve done a good job and as much as it’s disappointing for them to lose teammates, (other) guys get elevated times,” Habscheid said.
“What they do with the opportunities is up to them, so they’re excited about the opportunities, which hopefully gives them a chance to prove themselves and position themselves in the roster at higher levels.”
Hascheid added that there is no plan to call up new players to make up for those vacancies.
“We’ve got a full lineup and can’t dress 22 guys, (we) can only dress 20, so we have enough guys to fill the lineup and we’re confident in the guys we have, so away we go.”
Tale of the Tape:
On Feb. 15 the Prince Albert Raiders welcome the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Art Hauser Centre. This is P.A.’s first home game since returning from a three-game Central Division road trip. (Stats do not include Brandon’s Feb. 14 game)
Record: Prince Albert — 14-38-3-2; Brandon — 27-20-6-2
Last 10: Prince Albert — 6-4-0-0; Brandon — 4-3-2-1
Top scorers: Prince Albert — Jordy Stallard (37 points); Brandon — Reid Duke (57 points)
Goals for/against: Prince Albert — 147/239; Brandon — 184/181
Last meeting: Ty Lewis scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Wheat Kings to a 4-3 win over the Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre on Oct. 15 2016.