Under the radar: Oiring making major impact in Hockeytown North

Herald File Photo Aiden Oiring of the Prince Albert Raiders stands in the faceoff circle during WHL action earlier this season at the Art Hauser Centre.

Aiden Oiring may not possess the imposing physical stature of many of his counterparts in the WHL, but that hasn’t stopped the 18-year-old centreman from making an impact in Hockeytown North.

Oiring, who is listed at five-foot-seven and 172 pounds, has been a fixture in the lineup for the Prince Albert Raiders since he was acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg ICE back on Dec. 31, 2022. The Raiders sent Carson Latimer to the ICE in exchange for Oiring and two third round picks (one in 2024 and one in 2025).

Oiring says it took him some time to settle in with Prince Albert following the deal.

“I think that definitely took some time last year. They brought me in here (as a) third line kind of guy. I had to prove myself working higher than some of the guys that have been here longer. I think it means a lot that they look at me that highly and put me out there in every situation.”

In 89 career games since arriving in Prince Albert, Oiring has posted 23 goals and 42 assists for the Raiders. He has become a key fixture for the Raiders in all situations slotting in on the Raider top power play and penalty killing units. Prior to the trade, Oiring had registered five goals and three assists in 32 WHL contests with Winnipeg.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says Oiring’s versatility as a player had made him invaluable.

“(He’s) a key face off guy for us, somebody who can add offence, but is responsible defensively. He’s kind of a total package type of player and that’s really come through here over the last few months. I just think the bigger games come (and) he rises to the occasion, he shows up and he’s an important impact guy for us.”

Oiring posted elite numbers in his WHL draft year, posting 28 goals and 45 assists in just 32 games for the Calgary U15 AAA Royals, leading the Alberta Elite Hockey League (AEHL) U15 AAA in scoring . Other notable WHL players in the league that season include Carter Yakemchuk (Calgary), Andrew Basha (Medicine Hat), Harrison Lodewyk (Prince Albert) and Caleb Hadland (Brandon).

As a result, Oiring was selected in the third round, 58th overall, in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft by the Winnipeg ICE.

In his 16-year-old campaign, Oiring posted 21 goals and 29 helpers in just 32 games for the Southern Alberta Hockey Academy (SAHA) U18 Prep program.

At the tail end of last season, Truitt plugged Oiring in as the centre on the Raider top line alongside dynamic wingers Sloan Stanick and Ryder Ritchie. Oiring has been a mainstay on the line ever since, even with Niall Crocker taking over on the right wing when Ritchie missed time due to injury earlier this season.

“It’s definitely a privilege.” Oiring says about his playing time in Prince Albert. “Coming from fourth line to not playing at all (in Winnipeg) to coming here and working my way up to the first line with Sloan Stanick and Ryder Ritchie. It’s definitely fun. It’s the game I love to play, and I’m playing a lot more now, so it’s a lot more fun.”

Truitt says Oiring has always possessed offensive talent, but it is finally starting to translate at the major junior level with the Raiders.

“I think what we’re seeing is that his skill is really coming through. His confidence with the puck, really settling in well with one of our top lines and a major contributor that way. He’s shooting the puck and finding spots where you can get a shot through. Sometimes during the season, they weren’t going in but they seem to be going in with more frequency now.”

With the WHL drafting players at age 14, many players hit a growth spurt following their selection. Of the 57 players selected ahead of Oiring in the 2020 WHL draft class, seven stood at Oiring’s current height of five-foot-seven or below at the time of the draft.

Truitt, who has coached in the WHL for more than 20 years, says size isn’t as important of an attribute at the major junior level as it was in the past.

“I think 10 or 15 years ago, people would label him that he couldn’t play because he was small. But now you’re seeing smaller players with great agility, great acceleration. You take a look at (Zach) Benson, who played in Winnipeg, who is now with Buffalo. He’s a smaller guy, but seems to move around and stick in the NHL. When you’re somebody like Aiden with the skill set that he’s got, that’s going to come through his work ethic. His skating has got to be top notch and he’s done a real good job. It’s great to see his development that way and hopefully he opens up some eyes.”

When asked what advice he would pass along to younger hockey players who are smaller in stature, similar to himself, Oiring says a strong hockey IQ and knowing your ability is key.

“Just play to your strengths. You’re not going to hit guys off the puck all the time, but you have to be active with your stick. Just know what your strengths are and use those to your advantage over these big guys. Some of these bigger guys are slow, so just use your speed and go around them. I would say to use your strengths.”

Oiring and the Raiders were in action against Brandon at Westoba Place on Friday night, but results were not available as of press time. The Raiders are back on home ice Saturday evening when they welcome Hayden Pakkala and the Lethbridge Hurricanes to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p,m,