It was a relatively quiet offseason in Hockeytown North, but a major addition was brought into help the goaltending with the Prince Albert Raiders
Chase Coward was acquired on August 23 from the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for a 5th round pick in the 2024 WHL Prospects Draft. Coward, 20, missed a majority of last season appearing in only four games after undergoing multiple hip surgeries.
“I was pretty excited.” Coward said about hearing the news he was traded to Prince Albert. “I knew a few guys who played here, and they loved it. So, I reached out to those guys to see what they thought of the place, and they loved it. I’m really looking forward to it.”
In the spring of 2022, Coward was invited to attend the Buffalo Sabres camp. During a routine physical examination, it was discovered that he had a congenital defect that required surgery to fix.
Coward said the pain he was playing through was too much for him to deal with.
“Originally, I got two options. I could not play, or I could play through the pain. It was to a point where I couldn’t play anymore. Through my agent, we got hooked up with a good hip surgeon, so I got those done in October and December. I worked with Erin Baker at True Movement in Edmonton trying to rehab and she got me back really quick. I’m very thankful for her.”
In 35 games with the Rebels in 2021-22, Coward posted a 2.51 Goals Against Average and a .906 save percentage. In the Red Deer playoff run that season, he posted a 2.24 Goals Against Average and a .925 save percentage in eight games.
Coward says he wants to have a memorable final season in junior hockey with Prince Albert.
“I want to build a solid foundation and then make a deep playoff run so that we can get the experience this year and I can pass on what I know and what I’ve experienced in the playoffs to younger guys and give them kind of a feeling for it so that we can build a successful program here.”
Returning from last season, Max Hildebrand will look to take another step forward after making a career high 32 appearances in the Raider crease last season. He posted a 3.71 Goals Against Average and a .871 save percentage.
Hidebrand says he is looking forward to building a strong tandem with Coward, like he did last year with Tikhon Chaika.
“I think I had a really good second half last year and obviously with Chase coming in, I think we’re going to be a really good tandem. We’re getting along very well so far. Working with (Kelly) Guard and all through camp, it’s going to be awesome.”
So far in training camp, Hildebrand says his relationship with Coward has been nothing but positive.
“We build off each other, pushing each other in practice, goalies are always pushing each other. It’s just it’s a really healthy battle for starts, I’d say.”