© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Prince Albert Raiders netminder Cole Cheveldave guards the net during a scrimmage for returning players earlier this week.
Cole Cheveldave may be the only person at the Art Hauser Centre who doesn’t have his name written in ink as the Prince Albert Raiders’ new starting goaltender.
Instead, the former member of the Kamloops Blazers who joined the team in a July trade says he wants to acquire the job the proper way. He wants to earn it.
“I’ve got to keep playing my game and keep pushing,” Cheveldave says. “That No. 1 spot isn’t mine yet so I still have to earn it. I haven’t shown anybody here what I can do. I have two young guys coming up so I’ve got to show them what it takes to play in this league and help them along.”
Raiders director of player development Dale Derkatch says Cheveldave is an easy player to like.
“No. 1, you have to look at work ethic and that’s something Cole brings,” Derkatch says. “He’s a good athlete, he’s in shape and very focused. One thing, from talking to other people, they find that he’s a real good person so, all in all, you put that together and that's what it's all about.”
Cheveldave arrived in Prince Albert on Sunday and quickly met his new billets.
His first impressions of his new team have been good ones.
“I love it,” Cheveldave says. “The guys seem really tight so I couldn’t expect anything better.”
After moving to the WHL in 2011-12 from Drumheller of the Alberta Junior League, Cheveldave won the Blazers’ top job and went 70-27-3-4 with a 2.50 goals against average, a .908 save percentage and 10 shutouts in two seasons.
He led the Blazers to the Western Conference Final last season, and has overall played in 20 WHL post-season games, posting 13 wins and a 2.85 goals against average with a .902 save percentage.
“Coming from the junior league in Alberta, everything was just a step quicker or a step harder,” he says of the transition. “It was a little bit of a learning curve coming into the league but once you got the hang of it, it’s just keep working on it and keep tweaking your game to make your saves that much easier.”
Cheveldave entered the league as an 18-year-old, earning the top job in a fierce battle with Cam Lanigan.
“Through both years I just kept working and working and trying to make myself better. That’s what I want to show these young guys. As long as you work and put in your time, you’re going to do good things in this league.”
He trained at Crash Conditioning in Calgary this summer with Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey. Cheveldave was on the ice a lot in June, took July off and trained five days per week on the ice in August with Dave Lowry, the former NHLer who coaches the Victoria Royals.
Cheveldave hasn’t had a chance yet to spend any time with the two young goalies, 16-year-old Nick McBride and 17-year-old Rylan Parenteau, but looks forward to working with whomever wins that battle.
“It feels good that they have that confidence in me that I can help push the younger guys along and help develop them into better goalies,” he says.
Derkatch says it’s an ideal situation for the Raiders.
“That’s going to be huge,” Derkatch says. “He’s been in the league and was arguably one of the best goaltenders last year. Over his career he’s been very successful and he’ll have some knowledge to pass along to the young guys, whichever one it will be. We’re very lucky to have someone willing to do that.”
With the full training camp starting on Friday, exhibition season starting next week and the season opener on Sept. 21 in Prince Albert, it’s all about hockey again for Cheveldave.
“Right when I first got traded from Kamloops it was mixed emotions because I loved it there,” he says. “But as soon as it popped into my head that these guys want to win this year, I was so pumped to come here that I can’t wait to get the season going.
“Everything about this season is going to be good.”