Up front: forward core looking to build upon chemistry

Sloan Stanick will be a key player for the Raiders in his final WHL campaign. Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald.

Early last season, there was plenty of shuffling up front for the Prince Albert Raiders. This season, Prince Albert is looking to build upon chemistry built from the end of last season.

Niall Crocker is returning for his fourth season in Prince Albert. Crocker forms one of two returning lines with the Raiders playing alongside Hayden Pakkala and Carter Anderson. The trio formed chemistry after being paired together towards the tale of last season.

Crocker says he is excited to play alongside his linemates once again this season.

“It’s definitely nicer and easier to play with. We all have our chemistry already. We know we have an older forward group. It’s been awesome in pre-season so far, but heading into heading into the regular season, we know it’s going to ramp up. We’ve got a lot to prove here and I’m excited.”

Compared to last season, the Raiders have graduated both Evan Herman and Keaton Sorenson from the WHL. In the wave of incoming talent, the Raiders added Polish forward Krzyzstof Macias and Czech forward Matej Kubiesa from the CHL Import Draft.  2022 first rounder Luke Moroz and 2022 third rounder Oli Chenier will both look to jump in as regulars in Jeff Truitt’s lineup.

The Raiders finished the pre-season with a perfect 4-0-0-0 record winning all four contests by one goal. Crocker says one key reason for the Raiders success in the pre-season was the diversity of their lineup.

“Just like the diversity in our lineup, I mean, the Stanick, Oiring, Ritchie line, they’ve been humming in pre-season using their skill and their speed. My line is a little bit different, (we’re) bigger and can work the corner as well. So, it’s just a lot of different skill sets hitting you at the same time and I want to see that continue.”

Sloan Stanick led all Raider forwards in scoring a year ago posting 64 points, including 31 goals in 67 games and will return for his overage season in Hockeytown North. He says there has been a buzz in the Raider dressing room since the team opened training camp.

“We’re all very excited to get things going here and we’ve been building the last few weeks and now it’s go time and the real bullets are coming out. So, everyone’s pretty ramped up for that and we’re all back and we’re all excited when you’ve been texting all summer. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Entering his final season in the WHL, Stanick says he is feeling confident the Raiders can make some noise in the Eastern Conference.

“We can all play against anyone and we can all put the puck in the net, but we can all shut it down too if it’s a close game and find a way to win. So that’s the most important thing and that’s what we’re all looking to do is get wins this year.”

Subhead: How They Were Built

Acquired via trade: Hayden Pakkala (’04, acquired from Winnipeg in September 2021), Carter Anderson (’04, acquired from Red Deer in October 2022), Aiden Oiring (acquired from Winnipeg in December 2022), Sloan Stanick (’03, acquired from Regina in October 2021), Brayden Dube (’05, acquired from Seattle in November 2022).

Drafted/Listed: Ryder Ritchie (’06, 1st round pick in 2021), Cole Peardon (’06, 1st round pick in 2021), Niall Crocker (’04, 1st round pick in 2019), Grady Martin (’06, 2nd round pick in 2021), Matej Kubiesa (’06, 2nd round pick in 2023 import draft), Krzyzstof Macias (’04, 1st round pick in 2023 import draft), Harrison Lodewyk (’05, 2nd round pick in 2020), Luke Moroz (’07, 1st round pick in 2022), Oli Chenier (’07, 3rd round pick in 2022)