There will be a new captain for the Prince Albert Raiders this season.
After Evan Herman graduated from the WHL at the end of last season, there has been a vacancy at the top of the Raider leadership group.
The team announced on Wednesday that 19-year-old defenseman Eric Johnston will wear the “C” for the 2023-24 season with forwards Niall Crocker and Sloan Stanick being named alternate captains.
“It’s definitely an honor to be able to be a captain of this great team.” Johnston said about receiving the captaincy. “It’s got a lot of leaders, a lot of veterans on it. Hopefully we can do something great here.”
Johnston, a defenseman, joins the string of the blue liners to wear the “C” in Hockeytown North. Brayden Pachal, Zack Hayes, Kaiden Guhle and Nolan Allan are all rearguards to be Raider captain in recent years.
“It’s nice and also to learn from those guys.” Johnston says. “I skated with Pachal a little bit during the summer. Just being a team involves learning how he leads the way and makes young guys comfortable and show the way of what being a Raider about.”
Johnston was originally drafted by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 6th round of the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft, 126th overall. He was acquired by Prince Albert on Dec. 1, 2021 as part of the package received for Kaiden Guhle, who was the captain of the Raiders at the time of the trade.
Johnston says he is hoping to have a positive impact on the organization, similar to Guhle.
“Being traded for a guy like Guhle, you hear things about him around the organization and the mark he put on it. It’s been an honor to be able to fill his shoes and take the captaincy just like he had.”
When asked about his assistant captains, Johnston says Crocker and Stanick each bring their own unique leadership qualities to the table.
“Niall, he’s a four-year vet, he’s been through a lot with the organization. He might not be a loud voice, but he works hard and leads by example. He’s always with the young guys making sure they are comfortable. Sloan, he was acquired from the Pats, he’s made a mark ever since he’s got here. Just showing kids that confidence is really a big thing in this league and showing them what kind of player to be and how to be a leader.”
Playoffs were not in the cards last season for the Raiders, as they finished 10 points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers for the 8th and final playoff spot.
Johnston says the Raiders are chomping at the bit to get back to the postseason.
“Right after the season last year, we all knew we were going home way too early. I think coming into this year is a little different. We all trained a little harder, prepared a little better, and kind of coming into this year, knowing what we want and we kind of have a goal in mind.”
The Raiders open the 2023-24 season tonight when they welcome the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Art hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.