Graduating Raiders reflect on time in Prince Albert

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. (L to R) Keaton Sorensen, Evan Herman and Landon Kosior pose for a photo with Raider general manager Curtis Hunt at the team's award banquet earlier this month.

The last day of the season for a Western Hockey League club always has the unsaid emotion of sadness lingering in the air. All that’s left in the season is the exit meetings with the coaching staff and to clean out lockers in the dressing room. There are no more games left in front of the home crowd, no more games of cards on team bus trips or even a practice where the coaching staff goes hard on the conditioning.

For the trio of 2002-born players on the Prince Albert roster, it marks the end of their career in junior hockey. For Keaton Sorensen, Landon Kosior and Evan Herman, there is plenty of fond memories to look back on during their time spent donning the Prince Albert Raider sweater.

PA “paradise” for Evan Herman

Paradise. That’s the word Evan Herman uses when asked to describe his time in Hockeytown North. Herman says he made plenty of memories in Prince Albert.

“PA has been some of the best years of my life. It’s hard to put it in one phrase, because PA has been so good to me throughout the years. The people here have just accepted me and made feel a part of anything that was going on. They gave me every opportunity to have something to do or something to look forward to. It’s paradise on earth I guess.”

Herman was selected by the Raiders with the 64th overall selection in the third round of the 2017 WHL Prospects Draft. He would appear in parts of five seasons for the Raiders with 63 goals and 60 assists in 219 career games in Prince Albert, including playoff statistics.

Herman would pick up his final career WHL goal in his final game on Mar. 25, a 5-3 Raider win over the Regina Pats.

He says he was glad to see the Raiders earn a victory in his final career game.

“That’s pretty special. We are all competitors, and we all want to win every night, but to kind of cap off my junior career and my four years here in PA with a win is special. Having a happy bus home and the mood just be better. It’s pretty cool and makes it that much more surreal.”

After the blockbuster deal that sent Nolan Allan to Seattle on Nov. 16, the Raiders needed someone to step up and take the leadership mantle in the dressing room.

Herman was named 47th captain in franchise history on Nov. 18, just two days after the trade, and wore the ‘C’ for the remainder of his time as a Prince Albert Raider.

“That’s a huge honor.” Herman says. “You look at some of the names that went through this organization and in the past and even recent, and for myself to be among the category of those type of players and people that that’s a very big honor. I accepted the challenge and did my best to lead this group and help the young guys grow and get better every day and have fun doing it. And we had a lot of fun with this group.”

Kosior finishes with career season

It was a career season in his final year in the WHL for defenseman Landon Kosior, who shattered his career high in points posting 17 goals and 46 assists for 63 points finishing second on the Raiders in individual scoring.

Kosior’s previous career high in points was 45 set in the 2021-2022 season.

Kosior gives a lot of credit to the team around him in his individual success this season.

“All these personal accomplishments are nice, but you can’t do them without your teammates. I thought it was a great year, and I’m just so happy that I was able to play with all these guys.”

Kosior, a product of Regina, finished out his career in his hometown in a 5-3 Raider victory against the Pats last Saturday.

He says he was glad to be able to end his WHL career on a high note.

“It’s definitely special, you always say at the start of the year, let’s win our last game. We unfortunately didn’t make playoffs, but we were able to win our last game, so I was pretty proud of that.”

This season, Kosior served as the elder statesmen on a young blue line for the Raiders as the only 20-year-old on the back end. He will be the only Raider defenseman who will not be returning into the fold in Prince Albert next season with Owen Boucher, Eric Johnston, Easton Kovacs, Terrell Goldsmith, Justice Christensen and Seth Tansem all returning to Hockeytown North next season.

Kosior says he hopes to pass on the work ethic that was taught to him by the previous group of Raider defenseman.

“Just always work hard, be a pro on and off the ice. Just know you’re always representing the logo. You know how much it means to the fans and the people of PA. So just always be doing the right thing. And, I think the big thing here is the guy next to you is more important than yourself.”

Including playoffs, Kosior spent 218 games in a Raider uniform across four seasons. He tallied 44 goals and 91 assists in that time.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Kosior was named to the WHL East Division Second All-Star Team joining Blades captain Aidan De La Gorgendiere.

Sorensen made the most of opportunity in PA

You would be forgiven if you were not exactly blown out of the water when the Raiders made a trade for Keaton Sorensen on Aug. 17, 2021 in exchange for a conditional 2022 9th round selection.

Prior to the trade, Sorensen had logged 16 points, including seven goals across 76 games and two seasons with the Red Deer Rebels.

Sorensen made the most of the opportunities given to him in the 134 games he spent wearing Raider green following the trade. Sorenson posted 37 goals and 44 assists in his time in Hockeytown North, including a career best 53-point season in his overage season.

Sorensen said he enjoyed the opportunity to apply himself full-time to hockey during his time in the WHL.

“I really have to say it’s fun. It’s a dream come true. You watch teams growing up, like WHL teams and you always think of what it’s like to play. The competitive nature of it and being able to treat it like a job every day for as long as you can. it’s fun, it’s a game you love and if it wasn’t fun, you wouldn’t be playing it.”

With his WHL career at a close, Sorensen says he wants to pass forward to the younger players how limited your time in the WHL is.

“Definitely enjoy the moment for sure. I can’t stress enough that it’s a whirlwind. It happened so fast. It goes by really fast, and it doesn’t feel like that. Long ago, it was my first season before the bubble even. And it’s just looking back, enjoy every moment and definitely go your hardest because you never know what’s going to happen kind of thing.”

One memory that sticks out during his time in the WHL came before he put on a Raider uniform. During the COVID-shortened 2020-2021 season, the Red Deer Rebels converted suites for players to stay in during the pandemic.

Sorensen remembers the feeling of waking up and seeing the ice surface.

“It was definitely weird. It was glassed up and you could see the ice every morning rolling over. it was fun at times for sure in the bubble, but definitely missed the fans during the during the bubble and stuff like that. Not being able to go in public as it was, it was pretty tough. I’m just glad for the opportunity.”

News and Notes

The 2023 WHL Prospects Draft lottery will be taking place on Wednesday. The Raiders currently hold two of the six lottery selections, their own and the Edmonton Oil Kings selection that was acquired in the Kaiden Guhle trade in the 2021-2022 season.

The lottery consists of the six non-playoff teams in the WHL: Edmonton (pick traded to PA), Spokane, Victoria, Prince Albert, Brandon and Swift Current (pick traded to Vancouver).

The draft lottery uses 21 balls, and Prince Albert will have nine in play. A team may only move up two spots in the draft from projected order.

The Raiders third first round selection, which belongs to the Kelowna Rockets that was acquired in the Nolan Allan trade, will be 7th overall regardless of playoff results.

Prince Albert product Gabe Klassen was also named to the WHL All-U.S. Division First Team. Klassen posted 35 goals and 34 assists across 64 games this season for the Portland Winterhawks.