When the Prince Albert Raiders and Seattle Thunderbirds square off on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre, it will be a homecoming for former Raider captain and current Thunderbird defenseman Nolan Allan.
Allan was originally drafted by Prince Albert with the third overall selection in the 2018 WHL Prospects Draft and had spent his entire junior hockey career on the Raider blueline prior to a blockbuster move that sent Allan, along with unsigned prospect Reese Shaw to the Seattle Thunderbirds for a trio of players and six draft selections, including two first round picks.
Allan says he is looking forward to returning to Prince Albert and is excited about the unique setting the Art Hauser Centre provides.
“I think probably just getting to experience that atmosphere again. I know that it’s a great atmosphere in PA and the fanbase is very loyal. That place is going to be rocking. Just getting to experience the atmosphere again and to see some old pals and coaches and my billets. I’m just excited to get back into it.”
Allan was named the 46th captain in Prince Albert Raiders franchise history when he returned from training camp with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected the 19-year-old rearguard 32nd overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Allan has maintained several close friendships with teammates he played with during his time in a Raider uniform. He says he is looking forward to competing against his former team, but admits it will feel a bit strange.
“It’s definitely going to be weird for sure. It will be my first time playing against them. It’s going to be weird seeing them from the other side sitting on the away bench but I’m excited to. I think it will be pretty fun.”
The 2022-2023 WHL season is the first to include scheduled interconference games in the regular season since 2019-2020, prior to the league’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many players on the Seattle roster have never appeared in a WHL game at the Art Hauser Centre.
Allan says he has discussed with his Seattle teammates what to expect from the Raider faithful at the Art Hauser Centre.
“We’ve been talking a little bit about the rink in PA and the fanbase there and how rowdy the atmosphere gets in there. I’ll probably tell them to block out the noise. The fans are pretty loud, and it can get pretty rowdy in there so we just need to block out the noise and try to play our game.”
Entering play Friday, the Seattle Thunderbirds sit atop the CHL Top 10 as the number one team in the country. Seattle is coming off a 5-4 overtime victory in Winnipeg on Wednesday against an ICE team that sits atop the Eastern Conference standings and sit second in the CHL rankings.
Allan says that the Thunderbirds are in a winning mentality every night, regardless of the opposition in the front of them.
“We expect to perform every night and win every night. That’s kind of the mentality and the atmosphere we got in here. We are a confident group that battles and competes every night so we want to be on the winning end every night and we hope to take that into playoffs.”