The result wasn’t what was desired, but there were a lot of positives that came out of Thursday’s loss for the Prince Albert Raiders.
For the first time this pre-season, the Raiders dressed a large number of veterans and those players, at times, took control of the Western Hockey League game against the Swift Current Broncos.
Mark McNeill and Jonas Knutsen were on a forward unit with rookie Leon Draisaitl and that line accounted for all of the Raiders scoring in the 4-2 setback with the veterans McNeill and Knutsen each netting one goal while Draisaitl, a 16-year-old from Cologne, Germany, collected assists on both tallies.
“We had some line combinations that worked very well,” said Raiders head coach Steve Young.
Josh Morrissey and Harrison Ruopp were solid on the blueline and Luke Siemens made 30 saves in the Raiders goal. Sawyer Lange also had a strong game on the Raiders’ back end and if his shot that rang off the Swift Current post late in the second period had gone in, it might have blown the game wide open. As it turned out, it was the last real good scoring chance for Prince Albert as Swift Current came all the way back from a 2-0 deficit to finish off the Raiders with three unanswered goals in the third period.
“I thought we saw some things that we stressed in practise and that we had gone over and worked at,” said Young. “It was still a loss and losing isn’t acceptable.”
The Raiders have one more game remaining on the pre-season schedule when they will play a return match with the Broncos on Saturday in Gull Lake. Prince Albert still has at least two, and possibly three, cuts they want to make before getting down to their final roster for when the regular season begins next Friday.
Not dressed on Thursday were 16-year-old goaltender Rylan Parenteau, defensemen Riley Guenther and Mackenzie Stewart and forwards Jesse Knowler, Carson Perreaux and Spencer Meyer - another 16-year-old.
The Raiders will likely make some line-up changes for Saturday’s game so that some final evaluations can be made, but it is not clear who will be inserted and who will be watching from the stands. Young says the coaching staff will be watching a lot of video from Thursday’s game to help with the decision-making process.
RAIDER NOTES: Raider captain Mark McNeill gave the fans something to cheer about in the third period when he easily won a fight with Swift Current’s Bobby Zinkan… The Raiders will no longer be selling programs at the games. What they are going to do is download the line-ups on www.raiderhockey.com at 1 p.m. every game day so that fans can print off a copy before coming to the game. There will also be statistics, game notes and information about the opposing team available to print as well. This new feature is free of charge and for those who do not have internet access, there will still be a number of copies of the line-ups available at the door for each home game.