Special to the Herald
When a team is going through a reload, you need someone to be an example of the good that comes when you do things right every day.
Landon Kosior has become that example for the Prince Albert Raiders. The 19-year-old Regina product stepped in the role of offensive-defenceman especially after the Raiders traded star rearguard Kaiden Guhle to the Edmonton Oil Kings in a blockbuster deal on Dec. 1, 2021.
In 39 regular season games, Kosior has collected nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points. His goal and point totals are career highs.
Playing in his third season in the WHL, Kosior is finding the offensive touch he had when he played in younger age groups coming up through minor hockey. Before joining the Raiders, Kosior had his most memorable campaign playing for the Tisdale Trojans under-18 AAA team in 2018-19.
With the Trojans that season, Kosior led the SMAAAHL in defenceman scoring with nine goals and 43 assists in 44 regular season games being named a first team league all-star.
Even with that past success, there were no guarantees for Kosior when it came to cracking the WHL. He was never drafted by any WHL teams likely due to a perceived lack of size for a major junior defenceman. Kosior stands 5-foot-11 and weighing 189 pounds this season.
That stellar season with the Trojans was enough for to earn Kosior a training camp invite from the Raiders in 2019. The Raiders were fresh off winning the WHL championship in May of that year.
With the Raiders needing to fill three regular spots on defence for the 2019-20 campaign, Kosior impressed enough that the Raiders signed him on Sept. 3, 2019, and he has been a regular on the back end ever since.
He has continued to improve even with club playing an abbreviated 24-game campaign last season in a bubble environment in Regina due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has gripped the world.
Even with the challenges the pandemic has presented, Kosior showed it is possible to get better with training time and abbreviated game time on the ice.
For the rest of the Raiders players going forward especially for the younger players, they can look at Kosior to see what can happen when you bring an honest effort to the rink every day. Plus, the Raiders will likely have him next season as 20-year-old player, and he will continue to be a good example of what is possible for the rest of the squad.
Going the rest of the way this season, the Raiders are looking to be in tough to capture a playoff berth. They currently have 32 points in the standings coming from a 15-22-1-1 record and are three points behind the 15-21-4-1 Swift Current Broncos for the final wildcard berth in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.
The Raiders have to contend with the fact two sit between them and the Broncos in the standings. Both the Regina Pats (16-19-0-1) and Lethbridge Hurricanes (15-18-2-1) are one point ahead of the Raiders and both those clubs have three games in hand on the P.A. side and five games in hand on the Broncos.
It is possible the Raiders could go on a nine game winning streak like they did late in the 2017-18 campaign to vault into a playoff spot in a building season. At the moment, it can get daunting looking at the standings every day.
In the present, the Raiders come to the rink each day looking to get better and over time they will see the improvement that Kosior has had in his personal game.
Memorial Cup might get pushed back
The QMJHL appears set to finally return to action, but the circuit’s missed time might push back the dates of the Memorial Cup.
Last Friday, the QMJHL announced all 18 of its franchises will have resumed team activities as of this coming Thursday. The QMJHL last hit the ice with games on Dec. 18, 2021 before the circuit went on its Christmas break. It hadn’t been able to return to action due to various issues regarding COVID-19.
In the announcement last Friday, the QMJHL said it intends to play a full 68-game regular season that will conclude on May 1. The league has slated its playoffs to run from May 5 to June 15.
The Saint John Sea Dogs, who are QMJHL members, are scheduled to host the Memorial Cup tournament to determine a CHL champion from June 4 to 13 in Saint John, New Brunswick.
The QMJHL followed with a schedule announcement, and the circuit is scheduled to resume play this coming Friday with five games. The circuit is still working through how its remaining schedule will look and on Tuesday it announced how games are to look for the week of Feb. 7 – 13.
No announcement has been made regarding the Memorial Cup schedule. The schedule conflict is quite obvious.
Of course, the league champions of the WHL and OHL play in the Memorial Cup. While both the WHL and OHL have dealt with numerous schedule postponements due to COVID-19, both circuits are still aiming to complete their regular seasons by April 3.
This will be a storyline to keep an eye on as the CHL campaign continues to unfold.
Darren Steinke is a Saskatoon-based freelance sportswriter and photographer with more than 20 years of experience covering the WHL. He blogs frequently at stankssermon.blogspot.com, where he covers the Saskatoon Hilltops, Saskatoon Valkyries, University of Saskatchewan men’s and women’s hockey, U Sports football and Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey. He has the distinction of being in the building both times Game Seven of the WHL final went to overtime, including 2019 in Prince Albert.