Raiders get upper hand on Blades in WHL pre-season opener
It might be just a pre-season game, but anytime the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Saskatoon Blades there is a sense of accomplishment.
On Friday at the Art Hauser Centre the Raiders did just that as the Western Hockey League’s exhibition season got under way with Prince Albert registering a convincing 6-2 triumph. The win not only gave the Raiders some much-needed confidence, but it also allowed for the coaching staff to evaluate the talent and head coach Steve Young was pleased with what he saw.
“There was some energy early,” said Young. “When you are 16 years old and in your first year you have some energy, but they just have to settle down. We tell them it is an easier game when you keep it simple.”
The Raiders have four 16-year-olds trying to make the team and all got some good looks on Friday. Tim Vanstone scored one of the Raider goals while Reid Gardiner, Spencer Meyer and Rylan Parenteau all had solid performances. Parenteau is in a battle for one of the goaltending positions and although he allowed two goals on 20 shots, both Saskatoon markers came in the final six minutes when the game was out of reach.
“Both goalies played well tonight,” commented Young in reference to Parenteau and starting netminder Luke Siemens. “It was nice to be playing against a team to get better evaluations.”
Another rookie, Leon Draisaitl from Germany, scored a pair of goals to lead the Raiders offensively while veterans Anthony Bardaro, Chance Braid and Luke Mahura contributed one each.
The Raiders, who did all of their scoring in the second period, sat out several veterans including Mark McNeill, Shane Gwinner, Josh Morrissey, Riley Guenther, Mike Winther, Logan McVeigh, Antoine Corbin, Shane Danyluk and Cole Holowenko.
Two 15-year-olds – Brendan Guhle and Matteo Gennaro – were in the line-up on Friday and will likely see some action tonight in Warman when the two teams meet again, but both will be returned to their Midget AAA teams in Alberta after the weekend.
Young indicated that the line-up will likely be very similar tonight so that more evaluations can be done as the Raiders still have to trim three or four players from the roster before the regular season starts on Sept. 21.
After tonight’s game, the Raiders will have a home-and-home series with the Swift Current Broncos remaining on the exhibition schedule with the first game in Prince Albert on Thursday and the return match next Saturday in Swift Current.