Raiders’ Usau earns pro tryout

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Ilya Usau controls the puck during a rush up the ice at the Art Hauser Centre.

One of Prince Albert’s Belarussian stars has earned a pro tryout back home.

Ilya Usau earned a tryout contract with his hometown team of Dinamo Minsk in KHL. Usau was born in Minsk but played youth hockey in the US before coming to the Raiders last season.

He’s not considered an import pick because of his time spent in the United States.

The shortened 2019-20 WHL season marked Usau’s debut in the league. The 2001-born Usau put up 22 goals and 52 points in his rookie year, leading the Raiders in rookie scoring. He finished top five in the league.

 He’s also considered a potential late-round NHL draft pick according to NHL Central Scouting. He was ranked 108 by NHL Central scouting among North American skaters, 103 by and 282 by future considerations.

Despite earning the pro tryout, Usau is expected to return to the Raiders for the upcoming season.

In a news story posted to Dinamo Minsk’s team site, Usau thanked Prince Albert, called the city home and said he’s proud to be a Raider. He said he looks forward to returning to Prince Albert to continue his WHL career.

Usau’s one of three Belarussian-born players on the Raiders’ 2019 roster, joining Aliaksei Protas and Daniil Stepanov. Stepanov was released following this year’s import draft, where the Raiders picked another Belarusian— Uladzislau (pronounced Vladislav) Shyla.

Usau has represented Belarus three times — twice in the world U18s and once in the division one world juniors.