© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
He isn‚Äôt a high-profile player, but he is possibly the most consistent.
Game in and game out, Shane Danyluk is ready to take to the ice and do whatever is needed to help the Prince Albert Raiders win a hockey game.
In his third year with the Western Hockey League club, Danyluk is one of the more effective penalty killers on the team and in recent games has been rewarded for his efforts with a pair of shorthanded tallies.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been playing well,‚ÄĚ admits the Salmon Arm, B.C., product. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm moving into a bigger role and starting to contribute a bit offensively, which helps.‚ÄĚ
Danyluk, who turned 19 years old on Jan. 14, cracked the Raider roster as a 16-year-old after recording 34 points in 32 games with the Thompson Blazers of the British Columbia Major Midget Hockey League.
His role was altered when he made the move to the higher level, but the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Danyluk has adapted and in 157 games with Prince Albert has registered 17 goals and 34 assists while mainly using his speed to become a defensive specialist. He also played in six games with Team Pacific at the 2011 world under-17 tournament where he collected a pair of assists.
Danyluk, who missed a period of time last year with an abdominal injury, is the only Raider this year to play in all 52 games entering tonight‚Äôs match against the defending league champion Edmonton Oil Kings. His steady play is one of many reasons why the Raiders are in first place in the East Division and he says the mood around the team is a lot different because of it.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of character in the dressing room and we all have each other‚Äôs back,‚ÄĚ notes Danyluk. ‚ÄúThere is a lot of hard work and commitment and it starts with practises and carries over into games. We have to be ready to play every night.‚ÄĚ
Being ready is what the Raiders will have to be this week as they have a schedule that could be crucial to where they finish in the standings when the regular season ends in six weeks.
After tonight, when the Raiders will try and complete a four-game season sweep of the Oil Kings, Prince Albert travels to Saskatoon on Wednesday to face the red-hot Blades. Saskatoon is just seven points back of Prince Albert and with a game in hand could move to within striking distance should the Raiders falter.
The schedule doesn‚Äôt get any easier as the Lethbridge Hurricanes make their final visit on Friday before the Raiders head to Swift Current on Saturday for another important clash against the Broncos. Swift Current was creeping closer to the Raiders, but a pair of losses on the weekend gives Prince Albert some breathing room in that race.
With just 20 games left on the schedule, however, every game is going to be important and the Raiders are going to have to begin this week with three regulars out of the line-up.
Defensemen Harrison Ruopp and Jonas Knutsen are still recovering from injuries suffered on the recent British Columbia road trip and Tim Vanstone is also out of action for the foreseeable future after being knocked out in a fight against Josh Thrower from the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday. All are listed as day-to-day. Defenseman Sawyer Lange, who missed the last two games after being injured in Victoria a week ago, will be back in the line-up tonight.
RAIDER NOTES: Tonight is another Las Vegas Night with any fan 21 years of age or older eligible to enter a draw for a trip for two to Las Vegas. The prize includes return airfare and accommodations for two nights‚Ä¶Prior to tonight‚Äôs game, the 2013 inductees into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame will be introduced at centre ice. The annual induction banquet is in May.