Raiders schedule released

Fans of the Prince Albert Raiders can start to make plans for the winter.

On Tuesday, the Western Hockey League released the 2018-19 regular season schedule, which came 24 hours after the Raiders announced that they would open the campaign on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Art Hauser Centre against the Regina Pats before facing the same side in Regina a night later.

This year will see all 22 teams in the league play a 68-game schedule instead the traditional 72-game slate.

That matches the amount of contests that take place in the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The longest homestand for the Raiders is five games, which will occur three times during the course of the campaign.

The first five game stretch at the Art Hauser Center will be from Oct. 24 to Nov. 14, with other lengthy homestands taking place from Jan. 4-12 and Feb. 18 to March 1.

Their longest time away from home will will be a seven game road trip from Nov. 23 to Dec. 7 that will see the Raiders visit the Medicine Hat Tigers, Kootenay Ice, Red Deer Rebels, Edmonton Oil Kings, the Pats, Swift Current Broncos and Brandon Wheat Kings respectively.

Shortly after the WHL trade deadline, the Raiders will embark on a six-game road trip through the B.C. Division from Jan. 16-26 while the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships takes place at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Raiders will go up against the Prince George Cougars, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants during that stretch before rounding out their Western swing against the Ice.

Meanwhile, teams from the U.S. Division will pay a visit to Prince Albert for the first time in two seasons, as the Spokane Chiefs, Everett Silvertips, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds and Portland Winterhawks will all come to town.

One of the biggest matchups early in the season for the Raiders will be on Saturday, Sept. 29 as they’ll face the Moose Jaw Warriors at Mosaic Place for the first time since Game 7 of the WHL first round series this past spring between the two sides.

The Warriors won’t make their first trip to Prince Albert until Friday, Jan. 4.

The regular season slate will conclude with a home-and-home series against the Saskatoon Blades.

After a meeting at the SaskTel Centre on Friday, March 15, the Raiders will host the Blades a night later.