Serhyenko using bubble season as a building block for the future

Photo Courtesy of Keith Hershmiller/WHL Prince Albert Raiders netminder Carter Serhyenko prepares to move the puck up the ice during a game at the Brandt Centre this past season.

Raiders netminder a potential late round pick in this weekend’s NHL Draft

From a statistical standpoint, one might think that Carter Serhyenko’s sophomore season in the Western Hockey League was a bit of a challenging one.

During his time in the WHL’s East Division bubble with the Prince Albert Raiders, the 18-year-old from Saskatoon had a 2-5-3 record with a 3.99 goals against average and a .858 save percentage.

While his numbers weren’t as strong as the 7-5-1 mark, 2.21 goals against average and .916 save percentage he had during the 2019-20 season, Serhyenko feels that the two months he spent in Regina will prove to be huge in his development.

“I think one of the biggest positives from this season was that it gave me a number of things to work on and it gave me a vision of what I need to do to get better and improve on some things,” Serhyenko said. “One of the biggest things I’m working on is my consistency as I need to be strong game in and game out and in every period.

“Obviously this year was a different one but I think it will be a big boost for everyone to be able to play in front of fans again in the Art Hauser Centre. I know a lot of them watched us online, but it’s going to be great to have that energy to feed off again and be back in the community.”

In addition to being in front of the team’s fans, Serhyenko is currently slated to be the Raiders starting netminder following the graduation of overager Max Paddock.

He’s the only goaltender signed to the roster to have WHL experience, as 17-year-old Belarusian import Tikhon Chayka and 17-year-old Martensville product Max Hildebrand have yet to don the team’s uniform in competitive action.

“It (being a starting goaltender) is a big responsibility, but it’s something that I feel ready for,” Serhyenko said.

“Whoever our second goalie ends up being, I’m hoping that we can push each other and compete hard to give the team a chance to win every night.”

Serhyenko had the chance to learn from a pair of WHL veterans over the last two seasons as he was the backup to Paddock, who will play in U Sports for the Acadia Axemen this fall, and Boston Bilous, who has signed with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins in their quest to win the Centennial Cup on home ice this spring.

“I think the biggest thing I learned from them was seeing how they prepared for every game and every practice, especially with how they took care of their bodies,” Serhyenko said.

“Sometimes you might not be at 100 per cent, but you have to be ready to go, so it’s important to make sure that you are taking care of yourself both on the ice and away from the rink.”

Like the other members of the Raiders roster, Serhyenko has been busy with his off-season training over the last few weeks as he looks to help the team improve upon their fourth place finish in the East Division standings.

“Even though our season didn’t go as planned, I think it was a good reminder for us of how much losing really sucks,” Serhyenko said. “You need to make sure that you are bringing your best effort in every period of every game.

“There’s a winning culture with the Raiders that’s been here for many years and we want to maintain that.”

While he’s not trying to think about it too much, Serhyenko will be keeping an eye on this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft, which will be held virtually for the second straight.

NHL Central Scouting placed him ninth among North American netminders in their year-end rankings, while FC Hockey has projected him to be a sixth round selection.

“I’m not trying to look too far ahead but the draft is in the back of my mind a little bit and it is definitely an exciting time for me and my family,” Serhyenko said.

“My main focus though right now is to keep getting better every day. I want to keep improving so I can have a good season next year that will help the team be successful and hopefully allow me to reach my long-term goals.”

Serhyenko is one of three Raiders players ranked by NHL Central Scouting for this year’s draft, with the others being blueliners Nolan Allan and Landon Kosior.