Raiders look for win streak in heated rivalry

Andrew Schopp
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Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Mackenze Stewart exchanges punches with Regina Pats left wing Dyson Stevenson in the Raiders 7-1 trouncing of the Pats on Mike Modano night on Nov. 1 at the Art Hauser Centre. Herald photo by Perry Bergson

The Prince Albert Raiders are on the outside looking in on the WHL post-season, but centre Dakota Conroy is confident when push comes to shove, they’ll be there.

Sitting three points behind the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, Conroy said every point in the standings is critical with 16 games to go in the regular season schedule. 

“I have no doubts in my mind that we are going to pull through into the playoffs,” Conroy said following a team meeting on Thursday. “It’s going to be a dog fight to the finish and as long as we want it more and play harder, we’ll be successful."

After posting three points in the Raiders 4-3 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday at Rexall Place, Conroy hopes he can heat up as the Raiders look to string a pair of wins together.

The last time the Raiders got a winning streak going was on Dec. 30, winning a second straight game after beating the Regina Pats 4-0 on the road. The Raiders will face the Pats for the seventh time this season on Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.

Leading the eight-game season series 4-2-0, the Raiders have logged a total of 148 penalty minutes against the Pats this season, including a 71 penalty minute night on Nov. 1 when the Raiders beat the East Division rivals 7-1 on Mike Modano night at home.

Conroy said the Raiders rivalry with the Pats this season is one of the biggest he’s seen this year.

“It’s going to be a high emotion game,” Conroy said of Friday’s upcoming tilt. “Last time we played them there were lots of scrums and fights, you can expect the same thing tomorrow.”

Whether it’s the provincial rivalry or just the manner in which the two team’s stack up against each other, Conroy added there’s just something about the Pats that gets the team going.

“We just always seem to battle with them,” Conroy said of the Pats, against whom the Raiders have registered seven fighting majors this season, more than any other team in the league. “Even guys like myself who don’t usually get too fired up, last game with them I wasn’t afraid to get into scrums. They just bring out the worst in us.” 

At one point this season, Conroy went on a scorching nine-game point streak, scoring 18 points in that span. After that streak ended however, an 11 game dry-spell followed.

When asked if he views himself as a “streaky” player, Conroy said it’s a part of his game that has always lingered.

“I’m always like this,” he said. “It’s not a great thing, but when you are hot and everything’s going your way, you feel unstoppable and vice-versa, you feel like you can’t do anything right.”

Conroy agreed that the Raiders pair of home games on Friday and on Saturday against his former team the Victoria Royals, will be key as they look ahead to a gruelling six-game road trip that will see them tour the tough U.S. Division.

“They are great hockey clubs,” Conroy said of the division south of the border that includes the reigning league champion Portland Winterhawks. “That division is a lot more offensively minded, it’s almost a whole different game over there.”

Both the Raiders and Conroy will look to get streaks going as they host the Pats on Friday. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre. 

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