Renewing the rivalry

Saskatoon Blades leading scorer Braylon Shmyr puts the puck past Prince Albert Raiders goalie Ian Scott at the Art Hauser Centre. The Raiders face the Blades on Friday and Saturday. (File photo)

Raiders set to face Blades for first time in nearly two months

The Prince Albert Raiders are in Saskatoon on Friday night to take on the Blades for the first time in 2017.

The Raiders enter the game with seven points in their last five games, including an overtime loss to the league-leading Regina Pats. But Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said he wants his team to skate off the ice with two points every night.

“I think our game’s been pretty good lately and we don’t want to be a team that’s close, we want to win those games,” he said.

“But having said that, they’re the top-ranked team in the country so we played pretty good against them and we could have won that game just as easy as lost it.”

Habscheid said his team is going to have to keep up that newly-elevated level of play and draw on their effort against Regina as they look to string together their third-straight road win when they face the Blades. The Raiders played an energetic game, their special teams produced two power play goals and they even threw in a pair of crowd-pleasing scraps.

“I liked a lot about our game against Regina and I liked our emotional attachment to it and we want to keep that, especially when you’re playing probably our biggest rival in Saskatoon,” he said.

While the Raiders have starting adding to their win column, they face a Saskatoon team that is winless in its last five, with two losses coming in overtime and the shootout. Most recently the Blades fell to the Pats 4-1 on Wednesday in a game in which they were outshot 47-16 and gave up three power play goals.

But one of the teams the Blades have been finding success against has been the Raiders. Saskatoon leads the eight-game season series 3-1 so far, shutting P.A. out twice while narrowly outscoring the Raiders 9-7 during those four matches.

However, the teams haven’t faced each other in nearly two months, and the Raiders have improved their record since then.

With many of the Raiders out of school for the February Break this week Habscheid has been holding his practises earlier than usual — “a nice change for them” — looking to improve his team’s overall game and coming up with a strategy for this weekend’s games.

“(We) just want to make sure our game is strong in every aspect of it,” Habscheid said, adding that there are “some things that (the Blades) do and some strengths in their game that we have to be aware of.”

“So we’re just looking at that a little bit too because we do play them in two games so you can look at things a little bit deeper,” he said.



Tale of the Tape

On Feb, 24 the Prince Albert Raiders are off to Saskatoon to face the Blades. It is the first game of two back-to-back home-and-away matches on Friday and Saturday.

Record: Prince Albert — 16-39-4-2; Saskatoon — 23-29-6-2

Last 10: Prince Albert — 5-4-1-0; Saskatoon — 3-5-1-1

Top scorers: Prince Albert — Simon Stansky (39 points); Saskatoon — Braylon Shmyr (50 points)

Goals for/against: Prince Albert — 159/249; Saskatoon — 154/212

Last meeting: Braylon Shmyr scored two goals to help lead the Blades to a 3-2 win over the Raiders at the SaskTel Centre on Dec. 28, 2016. Raiders goalie Ian Scott faced 42 shots in the loss.