There will be a lot of old friendships being renewed tonight when the Prince Albert Raiders host the Spokane Chiefs in Western Hockey League action at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
Raider defenseman Davis Vandane will be facing his old Spokane teammates for the first time since coming to Prince Albert in early October and Anthony Bardaro will also be seeing his former club for the first time since a deal almost a year ago landed the overage forward from the Chiefs for goaltender Eric Williams and forward Todd Fiddler.
Both Fiddler and Williams will also be in action and are playing a prominent role in leading Spokane to a 19-7-1-0 record and second place in the U.S. Division.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a little nerve-wracking,‚ÄĚ admitted Vandane on Monday. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm still good friends with all the guys.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs exciting too because I want to redeem myself and show them they traded away a good hockey player,‚ÄĚ added Vandane. ‚ÄúKnowing they thought there were better players than me stings.‚ÄĚ
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman was caught in a numbers game with the Chiefs after spending two seasons with the club. With WHL clubs only allowed to keep three 20-year-olds, Vandane was made available shortly after the season began.
‚ÄúI knew with four 20-year-olds something was going to happen,‚ÄĚ says Vandane. ‚ÄúIn the back of your mind you hope you are not the odd man out.‚ÄĚ
Although the Yorkton product has something to prove to his former club, he insists he is more than happy with his new surroundings.
‚ÄúWhen I first got traded I heard nothing but good things about the Raiders,‚ÄĚ says Vandane. ‚ÄúI love it here. We have a tremendous group of guys and coming from Saskatchewan I knew they love their hockey here.‚ÄĚ
Vandane, who began is junior career with the Saskatoon Blades and spent some time with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League‚Äôs Yorkton Terriers before being moved to Spokane, has fit in nicely with the Raiders, scoring four times and collecting 10 assists. He also had one helper in his lone game with the Chiefs this year before the trade.
Vandane will be looking to help the Raiders win their 21st game of the season tonight, the same amount the club won all of last year when it finished last in the entire 22-team league.
In order to do that they will have to stop a Spokane team that has won its first two starts on its swing through the East Division with the former Raiders Fiddler and Williams among the team‚Äôs leaders. Williams has appeared in 22 games for Spokane this year posting a 15-5-1 record and a 2.75 goals-against average while Fiddler has netted 21 goals and added 13 assists to lead the team in scoring.
RAIDER NOTES: The Raiders made a minor trade on Monday sending 18-year-old defenseman Shayne Gwinner to the Saskatoon Blades for a fifth-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft. Gwinner played in nine games with Prince Albert this year, scoring one goal, before being sent home to wait for a trade. Gwinner was acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors during the offseason for a pair of mid-round picks‚Ä¶Tonight will be the final home game for both Jonas Knutsen and Leon Draisaitl as the import forwards will be leaving for their respective world junior camps later this week. Knutsen will be with Norway at the IIHF event in Amiel, France, beginning on Dec. 15 while Draisaitl will be playing with Germany at the world junior tournament in Russia that begins on Boxing Day‚Ä¶The Raiders will be helping the Salvation Army prepare for the Christmas season on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.‚Ä¶Tonight is another Las Vegas Night with fans over the age of 21 years asked to fill out an entry form in the Johnny Bower Lobby during the game. One lucky fan will be presented with a trip for two to Las Vegas with the prize including return airfare and two night‚Äôs accommodation.