With their two best players vying to represent their countries elsewhere, the Prince Albert Raiders will look to snap a season high six-game losing streak as they take on the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday.
With centre Leon Draisaitl and defenceman Josh Morrissey both attending World Junior Championship training camps and centre Mike Winther being out with a upper-body injury, the Raiders will look to their depth as they face the Warriors for the fourth time this season.
In Draisaitl’s absence, Jayden Hart has assumed the No. 1 job at centre, posting an assist on the top line in the Raiders 5-3 loss to the Kelowna Rockets on Sunday.
“It’s hard to replace Leon (Draisaitl), I don’t think anyone can,” Hart said of centering the Raiders top line. “I just go in there and play my best.”
While the Raiders roster has taken a significant hit, the organizations young guns are seizing the opportunity. In a rare occurrence, five rookies dressed for the Raiders in Sunday’s tilt against the Rockets; Tyler Dea, Mackenze Stewart, Lance Yaremchuk, Darcy Zaharichuk and Gage Quinney.
“It’s their time to step up,” Hart said of the rookies. “The whole team has to come together.”
Of the six games the Raiders have dropped in December, five of them have been by a one or two-goal margin. Hart said the Raiders losing streak may not accurately reflect their play, but added, “That’s hockey.”
“You aren’t always going to get the bounces some nights,” Hart said. “We’ve lost every game by one or two goals, they’ve been close. It’s not like they have been blowouts. We just have to stick to it and we’ll turn it around soon.”
The Raiders have posted a record of 1-2-0 thus far versus the Warriors and will look to contain defenceman Travis Brown who leads the team with 34 points in 36 games. The fact the Warriors are a familiar opponent should play to the Raiders advantage, Hart said.
“We’ve played them a few times so we know what they are all about,” he said. “They are a hard working team, but so are we.”
Coming off a 5-2 triumph over the Kamloops Blazers on Sunday, the Warriors will look to string together consecutive wins for the first time since Oct. 9, a feat they’ve accomplished just once so far.
Posting a record of 17-15-2, the Raiders inch ever closer to the .500 level as they face the struggling Warriors, who have outscored the Raiders 11-7 this season.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday.