Luke Siemens was driving through Alabama last spring when his phone rang. It was a call he wasn’t expecting.
Siemens, just two days removed from helping the Moose Jaw Warriors reach the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs for the first time in six years, was told he had been traded to the Prince Albert Raiders.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” said Siemens earlier this week as he prepared for his first meeting with his former team tonight at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre. “It was just two days after we were done so I wasn’t expecting that.”
The Delta, B.C., native had played in 55 games for Moose Jaw last year, posting a 2.56 goals-against average and recording 35 victories. In the post-season, he was 8-4-0 with a 2.71 GAA so those numbers didn’t warrant anything to be worried about.
Hockey is a business, however, and with Siemens entering his overage season, he was deemed expendable. Now with his fourth team – he played one game with the Prince George Cougars in 2009-10 and was with the Everett Silvertips prior to joining Moose Jaw – he appears to have found a home.
“It’s been awesome here,” says Siemens. “We ended the pre-season on a bit of a sour note (three straight losses), but the team has been working hard.”
The hard work has paid off both individually and as a team. The Raiders opened the current WHL campaign by collecting three of a possible four points from the Saskatoon Blades after they lost their home opener 2-1 in a shootout and then went into Credit Union Centre and skated away with a 5-2 triumph.
Siemens played in both of those games and was rewarded for his performance by being named the WHL’s goaltender of the week. In those two games, Siemens stopped 67 of 70 shots for a .957 save percentage and 1.44 GAA.
Now he hopes to continue the strong play against the Warriors.
“It’s always fun playing against an old team,” says Siemens. “It was the same last year when I played Everett. “You’re friends off the ice, but on the ice you want to beat them – to make a long story short.”
The quick start for the Raiders hasn’t surprised Siemens, but he is cautious when assessing the situation considering Prince Albert is coming off a season where they finished dead last in the entire WHL.
“We still have the same expectations as when we came out of camp,” says Siemens. “It’s only two games in and we’re not thinking it is going to be a 72-win season.”
“We have to work hard and take one game at a time,” added Siemens.
RAIDER NOTES: Entering the regular season the Raiders had nine defensemen still in camp. With Zach Hodder on the injured list for an extended period of time after suffering an upper body injury in Saskatoon on Saturday and Antoine Corbin auditioning with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, keeping the extra bodies is paying off. Either rookie Mackenzie Stewart or newcomer Evan Morden, who was acquired in a trade with Everett last week, will see some action tonight…Siemens isn’t the only Raider going up against his former team tonight as defenseman Shayne Gwinner was also acquired from Moose Jaw during the summer in a separate deal…There are also some Prince Albert connections on the Warriors’ roster as Austin Bourhis and Miles Warkentine are with the club. Bourhis is still sitting out a six-game suspension he picked up at the end of last year and Warkentine, a 16-year-old who played last year with the Prince Albert Mintos, is minus-one with no points in his first two games in Moose Jaw…The Raiders have a new promotion set up for all 13 home games that will be played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Art Hauser Centre. Any fan attending one of those games that is 21 years of age or older can enter a draw for a trip for two to Las Vegas. The prize includes return airfare from Saskatoon and two nights of accommodation and the winner will be announced during the third period of each of those 13 games.