Raiders and Warriors set for third meeting this season

Hayden Pakkala has three goals in his last five games heading into Wednesday’s meeting with the Warriors. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Raiders return home on Wednesday for their third meeting of the season with the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Raiders are fresh off of a three game road trip which saw them go 1-2, beating the Swift Current Broncos, and dropping their last two against the Edmonton Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels.

Hayden Pakkala, who was acquired from the Winnipeg Ice earlier this year, has played a large role in the Raiders lineup, both offensively and physically. After putting up just two points in his first 13 games with Prince Albert, Pakkala has stepped up, helping the team with three goals in his last five games. Despite being a 16 year old rookie, he feels like he has adjusted to the pace of WHL play.

“I’ve been getting more comfortable with the league,” Pakkala said. “I didn’t play many games last year but getting back up to speed with things is going pretty well.”

Fans that attend Raider home games have seen that Pakkala likes to get in the faces of opponents after whistles, and isn’t afraid to start any scrums. Pakkala doesn’t see himself as an enforcer on the team, but he says he likes going face to face with some of the league’s bigger guys.

“I like to get into things,” he added. “Not so much as an enforcer type guy but I like to get into scraps for the guys and get up close.”

With the WHL season now a quarter of the way done, Pakkala explained how the team is coming together as the games go by.

“We’re definitely getting way closer as a team,” he said. “Everyone is growing together and I think the chemistry is building for sure.”

The Raiders will look to snap their two game slide heading into Wednesday’s meeting with the Warriors, and Pakkala hopes a little home cooking will help them get back into the win column.

“We’re looking to bounce back,” he said. “This weekend we played pretty well but didn’t get the wins. We’re going to come out strong on Wednesday. It has to be a bounce back game for us.”

The Raiders have gone 1-1 in two meetings with the Warriors this season. Prince Albert’s 3-2 victory in Moose Jaw was their first of the season after starting 0-4. The Raiders then dropped the return contest at home the next night in Prince Albert, losing 4-1.

Raider veterans Ozzy Wiesblatt and Kaiden Guhle filled the scoresheet in those two games. Wiesblatt notched two goals and an assist, while Guhle picked up a pair of assists.

With World Junior camps on the horizon and Guhle nearly a lock to be in the lineup for Team Canada for the second straight year, Wiesblatt is going to need to put up consistent points again to make a claim for a spot on the roster. He previously represented Canada at the 2018 World U-17 hockey challenge and the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Both the Raiders and Warriors will be without an extra player each on Wednesday. Harrison Lodewyk of the Raiders and Brayden Yager of the Warriors travelled to Ottawa to join Team Canada at the Capital City Challenge, where the best U-17 players across Canada will play against the Canadian Women’s team as they prepare for the 2022 Olympics.

That creates a little sigh of relief for the Raiders, as Yager has put up 18 points in 18 games for the Warriors in his second WHL season, including four assists in two meetings with Prince Albert.

With a regulation win on Wednesday, the Raiders will jump from last in the East Division into a tie with the Warriors, who currently hold the third spot with 15 points and a 7-10-0-1 record.

Puck drop from the Art Hauser Centre is at 7pm.

@kyle_kosowan •