Raiders head to Manitoba for pair of weekend games

The Prince Albert Raiders head to Manitoba looking to snap their three game losing skid as they visit the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg ICE. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

For the third time this season the Prince Albert Raiders will head to the Wheat City for a battle against the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Raiders enter Saturday’s contest having dropped their last three games, most recently a 4-1 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Meanwhile the Wheat Kings have won their last two contests, and riding an 8-2 beat down of the Swift Current Broncos on Tuesday.

The last time Prince Albert paid a visit to Westoba Place, they left with a 3-1 victory on Oct. 31, as Keaton Sorenson led the way with two goals in the win.

In their meeting this weekend, the Raiders will need to find ways to put the puck in the net, as they have only scored two goals in their last two games. Tyson Laventure scored one of those goals, and after giving up four goals in the first period on Wednesday night, he says the team needs to have a better start against Brandon.

“Brandon is a hard team to play and they are really physical,” Laventure said. “We’re going to bring our game and match their physicality and hopefully get that win. We just need to start better. We obviously came out pretty flat against Moose Jaw, so we have to fix that up and have a better start to our games in the future.”

Laventure scored his fifth goal of the season on the powerplay on Wednesday, and after setting up shop in Ovechkin’s office, in the left circle. The Raider winger said he’s feeling more and more comfortable on the man advantage.

“I’m pretty confident out there. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help us get some offence out there. I’m lucky to be out there and hopefully we can score more goals,” he said.

While being on the ice for Prince Albert’s five on four chances, he’s been on a line with Sorenson and Reece Vitelli. He’s developed some chemistry with his linemates, especially in the last handful of games.

“I’m trying to play solid both ways and I have some really good linemates,” Laventure said. “Vitelli is a really good centreman and I like playing with him and Keaton a lot.”

Meanwhile the play between the pipes has not lived up to expectations lately for the Raiders. Over the last three games, Carter Serhyenko has been pulled twice after giving up a combined 14 goals on 58 shots, registering a .758 SV% in that span.

Despite the recent struggles, Laventure stood by Serhyenko.

“We’re confident in both of our goalies,” he said. “We don’t think the tough losses were on them. We know that we can still get big stops when we need them.”

Prince Albert will need some of those big saves this weekend, as the Wheat Kings have been on fire offensively, scoring 12 goals in their past two games.

With Serhyenko having started nine games in a row for the Raiders, Raiders head coach Marc Habsceid might give rookie goalie Tikhon Chaika the nod in net against the Wheat Kings, especially since they play back to back games, heading to Winnipeg on Sunday to take on the ICE, the number one team in the Western Hockey League.

It will be a test to see if the Raiders can stay in the pack in the East division, as they now sit three points behind the Wheat Kings, and five back of Regina for third place. However they are only two points back of the second wild card position, but four other teams are within three points of the first wild card position.

The Raiders and Wheat Kings square off on Saturday with a 7pm puck drop.