Following a quartet of exhibition games over the last two weekends, the Prince Albert Raiders are now gearing up for the start of the 2021-22 Western Hockey League campaign.
The Raiders concluded their pre-season schedule on Saturday evening in Warman, as they dropped a 2-0 decision to the Saskatoon Blades at the Legends Centre.
“The guys are playing as a team,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said. “Understanding structure is important and it’s a team-first mentality with the Raiders.
“As far I’m concerned, that was a great step for our team tonight as we get ready for Friday. No one is going to remember this game in three months, but this was a good building block.”
Saturday’s contest saw the 3-1 Blades get goals from forwards Jayden Wiens and Moritz Elias, while also receiving a 20-save shutout performance from Ethan Chadwick.
Raiders netminder Max Hildebrand put together his best game of the pre-season as he made 25 stops for the visitors, who had a 1-3 mark in exhibition play.
“Max and Ronin (Geraghty) were both good this weekend and they made some good saves,” Habscheid said.
“From a team aspect, this was our best game of the four we played in during the pre-season. I told the guys after the game that we need to have a foundation in order to build a house, and playing as a team is what we’ve stressed here in Prince Albert since I came here.”
During the pre-season, the Raiders suited up a younger lineup than normal as goaltender Carter Serehyenko, blueliners Nolan Allan, Kaiden Guhle and Landon Kosior, and forwards Reece Vitelli and Ozzy Wiesblatt have been attending National Hockey League camps, though Serhyenko is on his way back to Prince Albert after being reassigned by the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
They are also still awaiting the arrivals of imports Tikhon Chaika and Vladislav Shilo from Belarus and were without the services of forward Tyson Laventure for this weekend after he suffered an injury last Saturday night in a road tilt with the Regina Pats.
“We’ll get some guys back from camps and we may not get other guys back, but whoever we have Friday is who we’ll line up with,” Habscheid said.
The Raiders will open up their 2021-22 slate on Friday night as they’ll host the Pats in a 7 p.m. matchup at the Art Hauser Centre
The two sides will then travel to Regina the following afternoon for a 1 p.m. tilt at the Brandt Centre that will be broadcast nationally on CBC.
The trip to Warman has been one that the Raiders would like to forget as they’ve lost their last four trips to the Legends Centre.
Their last win over the Blades in the neutral site game came on Sept. 10, 2016, when they won a wild 7-5 contest with their archrivals.
Chadwick, who has yet to play in a WHL regular season contest, recorded his first clean sheet of any kind since the 2019-20 season when he had one shutout for his hometown Saskatoon Under-18 Contacts
In addition to the Raiders scratches mentioned above, the Blades did not dress Austin Elliott, Ethan McColm, Rhett Rhinehart, Charlie Wright, Tristen Robins, Carter Streek, Jordan Keller and Colton Dach for their pre-season finale.
Saturday’s Pre-Season Scores
- Winnipeg 4 Brandon 3 (Skyler Bruce – One Goal and Two Assists)
- Calgary 2 Edmonton 1 (Zac Funk Overtime Winner – Blake Allan – Two Assists – Colby Knight – 41 Saves0
- Red Deer 6 Lethbridge 1 (Jace Weir – Three Assists)
- Moose Jaw 5 Regina 2 (Matthew Gallant – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Swift Current 8 Medicine Hat 2 (Josh Filmon – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Kamloops 4 Kelowna 3 (Josh Pillar – One Goal and One Assist)
- Spokane 3 Tri-City 2 (Mason Beaupit – 27 Saves)
- Prince George 8 Victoria 5 (Carter MacAdams – Three Goals)
Regular Season Starts Friday
- Winnipeg vs. Brandon – 6 p.m.
- Calgary vs. Lethbridge – 7 p.m.
- Saskatoon vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
- Regina vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Swift Current – 7 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Edmonton – 7 p.m.
- Portland vs. Tri-City – 8 p.m.