Six forwards to rotate assistant captain duties during the season
It’s been an exciting week for Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Kaiden Guhle.
After making his American Hockey League debut on Monday with the Laval Rocket, the Montreal Canadiens prospect was named as the captain for his Western Hockey League club for the upcoming season, which will start on March 12 in an all-East Division bubble in Regina.
“It’s an honour (to be named the captain) as there were a number of guys that could have been named for the role,” Guhle said via Zoom during a media availability on Tuesday.
“I’m excited to get back with the team and start to work with the rest of our leadership group, Habby and the rest of the coaches to help build a good culture in the dressing room.”
Since he joined the program in his 15-year-old season as an affiliated player, Guhle has learned from previous captains Curtis Miske, Brayden Pachal and Zack Hayes.
“The biggest thing I learned from them, and especially the last two years from Brayden and Zack, is accountability,” Guhle said.
“That’s something that I think has been a huge part of our success over the last two seasons. It might not be something you want to do at times, but sometimes you have to put your foot down and be that guy.”
A first overall pick by the Raiders in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Guhle has recorded 58 points in 137 career regular season contests.
The Sherwood Park, Alta. product, who turned 19 years of age last month, is the 44th captain in team history and the third straight defender to earn the honour.
“I’ve been coaching in junior hockey for a few years now, and this is the first time that I’ve ever had an 18-year-old captain,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.
“Kaiden’s earned the opportunity and the right to be named captain. There’s a lot of dimensions to him as a player and as a person that lends himself to being a good captain. He’s learned from a lot of great guys and he’s a winner.”
Joining Guhle in this year’s leadership group will be forwards Matthew Culling, Spencer Moe, Justin Nachbaur, Eric Pearce, Reece Vitelli and Ozzy Wiesblatt, who will don the ‘A’ on a rotating basis.
“Four of those guys (Moe, Nachbaur, Pearce and Wiesblatt) have a championship ring with us and the other two (Culling and Vitelli) have that attitude of being a champion,” Habscheid said.
“We’re going to be rotating the ‘A’ around every other game, which is something that we’ve never done before, but we felt like with that this season was a good time to spread things around a little bit and have guys step up into that leadership role.”
Moe, Nachbaur, Pearce and Wiesblatt have spent their entire WHL careers with the Raiders, while Culling and Vitelli were acquired last season in trades with the Swift Current Broncos and the Everett Silvertips.
“Matt and Reece hate losing,” Habscheid said. “That’s something that is unacceptable for them no matter what and it made them a good fit for the culture we’ve established.
“I think it was a pretty easy transition for both of them when they came to us as a lot of their personal attributes mirror what we do here in Prince Albert.”