Raiders prepare for back-to-back games against the Wheat Kings
The Prince Albert Raiders will be looking to end their current streak of home games on a positive note as they take on the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday night.
The teams will meet again on Saturday night to finish off their six-game season series in Brandon. The Raiders have done well against the Wheat Kings this year, winning three of four matches and losing once in overtime while outscoring the Wheaties 15-10.
“They’re a good team. I think they’ve missed some players early in the season. They were without (Nolan) Patrick and (Kale) Clague and the last time we played them they didn’t have Clague so they’re going to have both those guys now which changes the complexion of their team substantially because one guy is probably going to be the first pick overall and the other guy has played on Team Canada,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.
“We have to keep playing our team game. We have to play competitive like we’ve been, we have to make it difficult for the other team to play against us and just keep playing with lots of energy and play a fast game but a smart game.”
Reid Duke leads the Wheat Kings in scoring with 35 goals and 32 assists in 54 games. The 21-year-old Calgary product made headlines earlier in the week when it was announced that he is the first player signed by the NHL’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights.
“He’ll be playing with more confidence for sure. The pressure of signing is off of him now so he’ll play free. Plus he’s a good player,” Habscheid said.
A new face will be joining the Raiders for the remainder of the season.
On Wednesday the Raiders announced that they have added Nikita Krivokrasov to the roster. P.A. signed the undrafted 2000-born winger in September. The Westminster, Colo. native scored 18 goals and eight assists with the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association’s U16 Rocky Mountain Roughriders this year.
“Nikita plays the game with energy and passion,” Raiders director of player personnel Ron Gunville said in a press release at the time of the signing.
“He is very hard to get off the puck and has shown an offensive flare all (training) camp. He comes from a great hockey background and this shows when he is on the ice.”
Krivokrasov said he was excited to receive the call from the Raiders and said he looks forward to learning from the older players and gaining experience at the WHL level.
“I just want to show that I can help out this team and just do whatever the coach tells me to do and have fun and play my game … Of course there’s always a lot to prove but I think I just need to let my game speak for that and just play and work hard,” he said.
“(It’s) a great group of guys, a real fun atmosphere and just awesome, honestly. It’s such a close group, I love it.”
Friday’s game will also feature a special presentation from Toronto Maple Leafs alumnus Ron Ellis. As part of the Leafs’ centennial season the team is sending its retired numbers banners to the players’ hometowns. Before the start of the game Prince Albert’s Johnny Bower’s No. 1 banner will be suspended from the rafters. Bower was unable to attend the ceremony.
Tale of the Tape
On March 10 and 11 the Prince Albert Raiders face off against the Brandon Wheat Kings in a pair of home-and-away matches. This season Brandon has been unable to beat P.A. in regulation.
Record: Prince Albert — 18-42-5-2; Brandon — 29-27-7-3
Last 10: Prince Albert— 4-4-2-0; Brandon — 2-6-1-1
Top scorers: Prince Albert — Simon Stransky (44 points); Brandon — Reid Duke (67 points)
Goals for/against: Prince Albert — 181/269; Brandon — 212/221
Last meeting: D-Jay Jerome had a two-point night and Ian Scott made 33 saves as the Raiders defeated the Wheat Kings 4-1 at Westman Place in Brandon, Man. on Feb. 18, 2017.