Raiders gearing up for first training camp in two years

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Tyler Dysart closes in on Max Savoie during a shootout at the Prince Albert Raiders 2019 training camp.

Scrimmages to take place Thursday and Friday; Green and White game to be held Saturday

For the first time since 2019, the Prince Albert Raiders will be welcoming players and prospects to the Art Hauser Centre for a training camp.

The Western Hockey League club will take to the ice on Thursday and Friday for a pair of scrimmages before hosting their annual Green and White game on Saturday afternoon.

“We always want our camps to give the players an opportunity to make our club and sign a WHL contract, and that’s definitely the case this year as we have roster spots open,” Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt said during the team’s golf tournament last Thursday.

This week’s camp will mark the first on-ice activity for the Raiders in their home rink since March 6, 2020, when the Brandon Wheat Kings came away with a 3-2 overtime triumph.

“When you see the kids coming back to town, you know that the season is getting closer,” Hunt said. “The returning players are already working out together and you can hear them laughing, reminiscing about last year and catching up about what they did during the summer.

“It’s been great to see the fan base once again as well with the events we had surrounding the golf tournament. Now we just have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s before he hit the ground running.”

While a full roster has yet to be announced by the Raiders, Hunt was expecting around 51 players to be divided among three teams for the first two days of scrimmages.

This week will also mark the first time that the team brass will get to see the players that they selected from the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.

The Raiders have already signed first round selection Terrell Goldsmith, who played for the team in Regina and earned the club’s rookie of the year honours, and second round choice Harrison Lodewyk.

“There’s a lot of unknowns there for us and the other young players that we are bringing in,” Hunt said.

“We’re really excited to see the 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds and we’re hoping for some great surprises.”

As was the case in 2019, the Raiders enter training camp with questions at the overage situation.

Forwards Matthew Culling, Michael Horon, Eric Pearce and Reece Vitelli are all expected to battle for one of the three slots on the roster, along with blueliner Remy Aquilon.

“We have some tough decisions to make but I think it’s important to have good competition during this time of the year,” Hunt said.

Belarusian forward Uladzislau Shyla and netminder Tikhon Chayka, who are both signed by the Raiders, are expected to join the club this season but their status for the pre-season was still up in the air as of last Thursday.

“We’re optimistic about it all but we’re waiting on the Canadian consulate right now,” Hunt said.

“They have both been vaccinated and they have all the paper work done that we would usually use. We’re not sure what the hold up is right now, but as soon as we have their visa work done they will be on a plane and heading to Canada.”

Thursday’s and Friday’s scrimmages are slated to get underway at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. with Saturday’s Green and White game set to start at 1 p.m.

As of Tuesday night, admission for the scrimmages were free of charge while a minimum donation of $2 to the Raiders Education was required to attend the Green and White game.

However, those details could change as a result of a debate at Tuesday’s Prince Albert City Council on masking and vaccination requirement at city venues, such as the Art Hauser Centre.