Raiders prepare for meeting with third place Rebels

Landon Kosior has scored the opening goal for the Raiders in three of their last four games. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

For the third time this season, the Prince Albert Raiders will square off with the Red Deer Rebels. After dropping both meetings earlier this season, Prince Albert looks to break the streak, and also get back into the win column, after losing a 4-1 contest against the Saskatoon Blades on Monday night.

The Rebels sit in third place in the WHL’s Eastern conference, and second in the Central division behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. They’re also in the midst of a five game road trip, as this will be their third game on the road in a row. Red Deer will head to Moose Jaw and Brandon to wrap up their road swing, before returning home to host the Oil Kings.

Riding high with points in six straight games, the Rebels head to the Art Hauser Centre with a 6-3-0-1 record in their last 10 games, identical to Prince Albert’s last 10.

Missing from Prince Albert’s lineup on Monday night was leading scorer Ozzy Wiesblatt. Sidelined with an upper body injury, head coach Marc Habscheid is hopeful the 19 year old will return to the lineup in time for Wednesday’s affair.

The Raiders will need all the firepower they can get, as their loss to the Blades was both a mix of Christmas break rust and lackluster offense. Throwing just 13 shots on goal in the first two periods, Prince Albert managed to put 11 shots on goal in the third period against Saskatoon, totaling 24 in the game, However, a lot of those chances were from the high circle or a shot from the point, and failing to create many rebounds in front of Nolan Maier, the Blades keeper was able to steer away most of what was thrown his way.

What Wiesblatt brings to the Raiders offense is grit and determination. With his uncanny ability to work his way down the right wall, and his signature curl and drag shot, he always provides a boost down the middle. His linemates, Sloan Stanick and Carson Latimer, each picked up assists in Monday’s game on Landon Kosior’s powerplay goal. If Wiesblatt does return on Wednesday to centre between the two, that line could be one to watch all night.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have their own top line to take care of business, in the form of Ben King, Arshdeep Bains, and Jhett Larson. The three forwards have 87 points between them, which is 33 per cent of the team’s offense. The three have been dangerous in both meetings with the Raiders this season, scoring 11 points combined, with Ben King leading the way (4G, 1A).

A key in both games so far has been the Raiders powerplay. With the Rebels being one of the most penalized teams in the league, the door was open a total of eight times for Prince Albert to put up a powerplay tally. They managed to only score once on those eight man advantage chances. Give credit to Red Deer, who, despite taking so many penalties, still has the fourth best penalty kill in the WHL.

Tikhon Chaika came in relief for Carter Serhyenko in the first meeting of the season, stopping 10 of 11 shots that he faced. While it’s almost a certainty that he will get the nod between the pipes on Wednesday, Chaika will be looking for a bounce back performance, after giving up three goals on 18 shots against the Blades.

It will be a tough test for Prince Albert, but a chance to take down another top team in the league on Wednesday night. Puck drop from the Art Hauser Centre is at 7pm.