Newest Raider Nathan Preston ready for WHL

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Raider goaltender Nathan Preston is looking to make a strong impression after signing with the team on Dec. 28.

A stellar start to the season in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) has led to an opportunity in the WHL for Nathan Preston.

Preston, who is 18 years of age, had played 15 games this season for the Princeton Posse posting a 12-3-0 record, a 2.47 Goals Against Average and a .920 save percentage.

“He played some big games and helped push our group to the success we have had in our first half,” said Princeton Posse head coach and GM Mark Readman in a KIJHL press release. “He is a leader with his work habits in practice, never taking a rep off and always striving to get the best out of himself and his teammates.”

Preston was signed to a WHL Scholarship and Development Agreement back on Dec. 28. He says he has been learning everything he can from his new tandem mate in Max Hildebrand since he arrived in Prince Albert.

“I’m super excited to get the chance and the opportunity to come up and get to play some games and learn from Hilty (Max Hildebrand) here and it’s been really good so far.  (I) can’t wait to keep rolling with it.”

Although he has yet to make his WHL debut, Preston says he has already seen a noticeable jump in skill from the KIJHL to the Raider players he has faced in practice.

“They’re picking corners a lot easier compared to the KIJHL. I got to play more aggressive, and tracking is really huge in this league compared to down there. Obviously, it’s my first week here, but I think I’m just going to keep getting better and better each day.”

Nathan is not the only talented hockey player to come out of the Preston family. His younger brother, Mathis, was the third overall pick in the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft by the Spokane Chiefs and is expected to be a major contributor to the Chiefs when he can join the WHL full-time next season.

Nathan says his relationship with his brother has made both of them into better hockey players.

“Our whole family has been really based around hockey, going to practices and everything. It’s been really good getting to learn some stuff from him as well because he’s got a pretty good release. It’s been really nice having him as a brother and we both learned stuff from each other, so it’s been good.”

Preston and the Raiders return to action on Friday night when they travel to Moose Jaw to take on the Warriors. Puck drops at 7 p.m.