With the Saskatchewan Winter Games and Olympics over, it’s business as usual once again for Prince Albert’s three major hockey teams.
The Prince Albert Raiders (29-29-2-2) continue their western swing down through the U.S. division on Tuesday when they meet the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The T-Birds currently sit fourth in their conference, and have already clinched a playoff spot with a record of 37-19-2-4. High-scoring defenceman Shea Theodore, who has 17 goals and 49 assists for 66 points, is the only defender with more points than Raiders captain Josh Morrissey, who sits at 62 in 11 fewer games.
Seattle is 20-5-1-3 at home this season, with the 49 points they have earned at home good for fifth in the Western Hockey League.
The Raiders are 14-16-1-0 on the road this season.
One statistic that would seem the favour the Raiders and their red-hot powerplay is the fact that the T-Birds have taken over 400 minutes more in penalties this season.
The Raiders then finish their road trip in Everett against the Silvertips (30-23-7-2) on Wednesday before driving nearly 1,800 km home to meet the Kootenay Ice on Saturday.
The Raiders have 10 games left, with five at home and five on the road.
They currently sit in eighth with 62 points, the same total as the Red Deer Rebels. Both teams trail the Brandon Wheat Kings by four points and the Swift Current Broncos by six. The Raiders have a game in hand on the Wheaties and Rebels.
The Prince Albert Mintos, meanwhile, are currently waiting for games rescheduled from earlier in the season to be made up this week.
Last week the Mintos beat the Saskatoon Blazers 6-0 and the Saskatoon Contacts 4-1 to complete their 44-game schedule.
The Mintos will finish third with a record of 28-11-4-1, not bad for a team that came out of the gate winning just once in their first five starts.
They are led up front by Teal Sobkowicz (21 goals and 24 assists), Ryan Duret (19 goals and 25 assists) and Lance Yaremchuk, who earned 31 points in just 20 games.
A big part of their success is their goaltending, with rookie Connor Ingram leading the league in goals against at 1.98 to go with the SMAAAHL’s best save percentage of .924.
Lane Michasiw is third in goals against at 2.37 with a .911 save percentage.
Their playoff schedule won’t be released until after the regular season ends on Tuesday.
Regardless of where their playoff run takes them, they’ll be hosting the Telus Cup regional playdowns from April 3-6 with the Saskatchewan champion (or runnerup if they win the league) along with the top teams from Northern Ontario and Manitoba. The winner gains a berth in the national tournament.
The Prince Albert A&W Bears, meanwhile, also finished the season in third, with a record of 15-7-3-3, good for 54 points.
They start the playoffs on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against the Notre Dame Hounds. Subsequent games in the best-of-five series would occur on March 3 in Notre Dame, March 6 at the Art Hauser Centre, March 8 in Notre Dame and March 7 at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Hounds are led by the three of the league’s top dozen scorers in forwards Maeve McGauley, Katelyn Breitkreuz and Robin Nimegeers.
Prince Albert led the Hounds by 20 points in the standings and gave up 36 fewer goals, in part due to the heroics of Bears netminder Jessica Vance, who posted a goals against of 1.60 (third in the league) and a save percentage of .943 (second).