Gislason fitting right in to Raiders’ defensive system during crunch time

Tayem Gislason scored his first WHL goal against the Saskatoon Blades on Dec. 18th. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

At the start of the 2021-22 season, the Prince Albert Raiders had one of the best top four defence cores in the WHL. Kaiden Guhle, Nolan Allan, Landon Kosior, and Remy Aquilon had proven themselves to be lock down defenders in their own end of the ice in seasons past.

With Kaiden Guhle being dealt to the Edmonton Oil Kings earlier this year, it left a big hole to be filled. Cue Tayem Gislason.

After the departure of Guhle, the former Raider captain and first round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, the entire defence core was forced to step up into bigger roles. Gislason has been one of those players who has stepped up over the last 10 games.

In his second WHL season, things started off slow for the 18 year old defenceman. Registering just one point in his first 17 games of the regular season, it looked like he was adopting a more stay at home approach to his game.

However, the 2018 sixth round choice has gotten more involved on the offensive side of things, and he scored his first Western Hockey League goal on Dec. 18th against the Saskatoon Blades. In 11 games since then, Gislason has registered six points (1G-5A). He feels like his game has been steadily progressing as the season has gone on.

“I’ve been trying to play the same way as I always have,” he said. “I’m trusting what the coaches have been telling me, and the points that they’re giving me. I think I’ve been fitting in well with the rest of our d core.”

Gislason credited some of the veteran guys on the team like Allan, Kosior, and Aquilon for the improvement. He said they’ve used their experience in the WHL to help him along the way.

“Those guys are always there to lean on, and I know I can count on them to help me out,” Gislason said. “I know I can ask them any question, and they help a lot in drills and stuff like that. They’re really great teammates.”

Gislason and the Raiders welcome the Red Deer Rebels to the Art Hauser Centre on Friday night. He know the games coming up will all be important, as Prince Albert is still in a dogfight for a playoff spot.

“I think we all know that we need to start winning games,” Gislason said. “We all want to make the playoffs, and that has to start this weekend. We just need to play the way we know we can play and we’ll be fine.

“We had a couple of games postponed, but that hasn’t changed our mentality at all. We’re still going to go in to every game with a winning mentality and play the way we’ve been playing.”

It won’t be an easy stretch of games coming up for Prince Albert, as they welcome the Rebels, who sit second in the Central division behind the Edmonton Oil Kings, who the Raiders welcome on Saturday night.

While they’ve beaten both teams already this season, both games this weekend will be the biggest test of the year for Prince Albert. They’re currently on the outside looking in on the final wild card position, three points back of the Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes, who are tied for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

This weekend kicks off at the Art Hauser Centre against the Rebels. Puck drop is at 7pm.