Daily Herald Staff
One might have forgiven the Prince Albert Raiders if they didn’t play as a team on Friday in Brandon against the Wheat Kings.
One might also have overlooked the Raider players for reading the name tags sewn on the back of their jerseys.
After all, it is a totally different team taking to the ice now that the Western Hockey League’s trading deadline has passed and with the return of five players from international tournaments it might take some time for everyone to get familiar with one another.
With barely enough time to be introduced to each other the Raiders went out and showed signs of what might be coming in the future as Prince Albert outscored the Wheat Kings 4-3 and momentarily climbed into seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Leon Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey were back in the line-up for the first time since representing Germany and Canada, respectively, at the world junior hockey championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Graeme Craig made his Raider debut after being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday and when you throw in Matteo Gennaro, Brendan Guhle and Nick McBride returning earlier this week from playing with Team Pacific at the World under-17 Hockey Challenge it is almost like a new team that took to the ice in Brandon.
There is also the recent addition of Collin Valcourt, Ryan Coghlan and Calder Brooks from earlier trades and expecting team chemistry might have been a stretch.
Despite all the new faces the Raiders did look like a cohesive unit as they struck early and often to build a 4-1 advantage through 40 minutes of play. Brandon battled back with an early goal in the third and made it even closer with a tally with just over five seconds to play.
Jayden Hart, Draisaitl, Carson Perreaux and MacKenzie Stewart scored for the Raiders, who improve to 22-18-2-0 and now trail the Wheat Kings by just two points for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They will try and eliminate that gap when the two clubs get back together tonight for another contest in Brandon.
John Quenneville, Jens Meilleur and Ryan Pulock replied for the Wheat Kings.
Cole Cheveldave was brilliant in the Raider net making 36 saves while Curtis Honey started the game in the Brandon goal, but was pulled just over two minutes into the second period when Prince Albert scored goals eight seconds apart to build a 3-1 lead. Honey stopped 10 shots during his time in net while Jordan Papirny came on in relief and faced 13 more shots.
RAIDER NOTES: Not dressed for the Raiders were Brendan Guhle, Craig Leverton and Tim Vanstone…Coghlan has switched numbers following the latest trade as he grabbed Tyler Dea’s former No. 2 in place of the No. 12 he wore since coming to Prince Albert two weeks ago…Prince Albert is now 4-0-0 against the Wheat Kings this season…Perreaux apparently likes to play against his hometown Wheat Kings. In four games this year, the Brandon product has five goals and one assist…The Raiders will return home following tonight’s game and have the week off as the league takes a break for the Top Prospects game in Calgary on Wednesday. Prince Albert next sees action on Friday when they will head down the highway to Saskatoon to take on the Blades.