The last season in the Western Hockey League for Sean Montgomery, Noah Gregor and Dante Hannoun has been one that the trio won’t soon forget.
However, the Prince Albert Raiders overage forwards are looking to end their junior careers on a winning note as they begin their quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup before they move on the from the junior ranks.
“When you have an event like this awards banquet (which took place at the Ches Leach Lounge Monday) you start to reflect a little bit on what you’ve been a part of, especially with this group,” Gregor said. “With that said, there’s still a lot of hockey for us to play.”
“I think it’s starting to sink in for us now with the playoffs starting Friday,” Montgomery added. “Obviously it’s been a fun year here and we’re just trying to enjoy everything as it comes along.”
Montgomery, who is now the all-time games played record holder for the Raiders at 345, has been through it all with the team and is pleased to see the fans being rewarded for their support.
“They deserve it,” Montgomery said. “We’ve had good crowds here even when things aren’t going well, so it’s nice to give them a year like this one.”
Although Gregor had played at the Art Hauser Centre on many occasions with the Moose Jaw Warriors, he didn’t know many of his future teammates that well until he joined the Raiders in October after taking part at the San Jose Sharks training camp.
“It’s been awesome here,” said Gregor, whose rights were acquired from the Victoria Royals in July.
“The records that we’ve achieved as a group are something we can all look back on someday and the guys have been great ever since I’ve come to Prince Albert. This is a group that I’ll be friends with for a long time.”
Hannoun joined the roster in January after spending the last four-and-a-half seasons with the Royals and has proven to be a great fit with the Raiders.
“I was a little nervous when I first got here but all of that went away after a couple of days,” Hannoun said.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life so far and I’m so happy to be a part of this team.”
As they get ready for their final games in the WHL, Hannoun and Montgomery couldn’t help but think back on when they each stepped foot into their respective locker rooms to start off their junior careers.
“When you walk in and see a guy like Josh Morrissey, who was already a first round pick by the Jets at that point and was part of the World Junior team, it’s a pretty big deal when you are a rookie,” Montgomery said.
“I got called up to the Royals when I was 15 and I didn’t know many of the guys when I got there,” Hannoun added. “It seemed like everyone was seven feet tall but they were all so welcoming and that’s something I won’t forget.”
For Gregor, his “Welcome to the WHL” moment came in his first regular season game as the Warriors paid a visit to the Swift Current Broncos in September 2014.
“We had Scott Cooke on our roster and they had Tanner LeSean, so you had a couple of heavyweights out there and they ended up dropping the gloves,” Gregor said.
“It was a full barn that night and they were going wild. So that was probably my first real eye-opener as to what things were like in the WHL.”
Handing Out the Hardware
Before their series with the Red Deer Rebels gets underway Friday at the Art Hauser Centre, the Raiders officially put a bow on the 2018-19 regular season with their annual awards banquet at the Ches Leach Lounge.
Goaltender Ian Scott was named the Most Valuable Player, while Brett Leason and Sean Montgomery each received a pair of accolades.
Leason was named as the team’s Most Improved Player and also took home the Top Scorer honours, while Montgomery won the Player’s Choice and Best Defensive Forward awards.
Monday’s other winners are as follows:
- Best Conditioned Player: Parker Kelly
- Hardest Working Player: Zack Hayes
- Humanitarian of the Year: Jeremy Masella
- Most Valuable Defenceman: Brayden Pachal
- Rookie of the Year: Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Wiesblatt
- Scholastic Player of the Year: Jakob Brook
- Three Star Awards: 1) Noah Gregor 2) Brett Leason 3) Parker Kelly