© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Red Deer goaltender Patrick Bartosak makes a save on former Prince Albert Raiders forward Jonas Knutsen as former Rebels defenceman Brandon Underwood gives chase during the WHL playoffs last March. The Raiders will get another chance to solve Bartosak on Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre at 7 p.m.
By Andrew Schopp
The undefeated Prince Albert Raiders will have vengeance on their minds as the Red Deer Rebels visit the Art Hauser Centre for the first time since sweeping the Raiders in the playoffs last spring.
Red Deer goaltender Patrik Bartosak was lights out in the first round of the 2013 WHL playoffs, the Raiders beat the 20-year-old Czech backstop just five times in the four-game series.
Import Raiders center and leading scorer Leon Draisaitl acknowledges the skill of the Los Angeles Kings goaltending prospect, but is not worried about his, or the team’s ability to put the puck past Bartosak Wednesday.
Draisaitl is riding a three-game goal streak, with eight points in four games, skating on the Raider’s top line with Carson Perreaux and Dakota Conroy.
“We are not concerned about scoring goals on him. He is a great goalie, but there are so many great goalies in this league and we have scored lots of goals so far,” Draisaitl said.
The Raiders are currently tied for first in goals for with the Portland Winterhawks with 24 goals, on a four game-win streak to start the 2013-2014 campaign.
“We are not really concerned about how we can beat Bartosak. If we get pucks on net, get traffic in front, we’ll score,” he said.
The Raiders split the season with the Rebels last season, going 2-2-0 against Red Deer, securing both victories at home. The Raiders ran into a hot Bartosak in the first round of the playoffs who posted a .954 SP and a shutout in the four game series.
Bartosak is 2-1-0, with nine goals allowed so far this season and the Rebels are 3-1-0, coming off a loss to the Calgary Hitmen on the road. Forward Grayson Pawlenchuk leads the Rebels in scoring with three goals and two assists.
“It’s kind of a revenge from the playoffs because we got swept,” Draisaitl said of Wednesday’s upcoming game. “They outplayed us, outworked us and we definitely want to show them we are a different team this year. We are better this year and our goal is definitely to beat them for sure.”
With Brent Sutter, who coached the Rebels to a 2001 Memorial Cup Championship at the helm, the Rebels are projected to go neck and neck with the Raiders for the Central Division crown, with top prospects defenseman Haydn Fleury and center Conner Bleackley, projected to go in the first and second rounds of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
“We’ve won all our games so far. Our goal is to keep that streak alive,” Draisaitl said.
The Puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday.