Prince Albert Raiders rookie backstop Nick McBride is the first 16-year-old Raiders keeper since Aaron Sorochan in 2001 to be on the team's roster full-time. McBride posts a record of 8-6-2 with a .909 save-percentage this season. Herald photo by Perry Bergson
It’s been two decades since the Prince Albert Raiders instilled so much faith in a 16-year-old backstop.
With 22 appearances between the pipes this season, rookie goalie Nick McBride is the first 16-year-old Raiders keeper since Aaron Sorochan in 2001 to be on the team’s roster full-time.
Appearing as a starter in three of the Raiders’ last four games, McBride’s confidence is high as his role with the team has steadily increased throughout the season.
“I’m feeling good right now,” McBride said, having collected two straight victories to improve his record to 8-6-2.
When asked if the Maple Ridge, B.C native is prepared to assume the club’s starter role to finish off the Raiders stretch run into the playoffs, McBride said he’s just looking to stay the course.
“I’m not really thinking about roles, but if I keep playing well, I keep playing,” he said. “That’s all I am really focused on.”
McBride displayed his confidence and ability to maintain composure as a rookie on Tuesday against the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Art Hauser Centre.
On a Warriors left wing Torrin White penalty shot early in the first period, McBride made a potentially game-changing toe-save.
“I was definitely a little nervous because that could have really changed the game,” McBride said of the penalty shot which could have given the Warriors a two-goal lead. “If we went down 2-0, it would have been really hard to come back so I knew I had to stop that one.”
Whether it’s McBride or overage starter Cole Cheveldave between the pipes, the Raiders will look to extend their win streak to three games as they host the Calgary Hitmen on Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Posting a record of 0-3-0 against the Hitmen this season, Calgary is the only team in the Eastern Conference the Raiders have yet to beat.
Chasing the Red Deer Rebels for the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, spirits are high in the Raiders dressing room, McBride said.
“It’s a good atmosphere right now,” he said. “We are really happy, we scored lots of goals against Moose Jaw, hopefully we can keep that up and keep winning games.”
With a game in hand, the Raiders currently sit ninth in the conference with a record of 31-30-5, two points behind the Rebels who grasp that final playoff berth.
Securing their first win against the Hitmen this season won’t be easy as they are red hot. The Hitmen currently sit third in the Eastern Conference with a record of 44-16-7, having won eight of their last 10 games.
On Friday, the Raiders will look to contain Calgary’s trio of potent forwards in centres Greg Chase, Brady Brassart and left wing Jake Virtanen who is projected to be a first round selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. when the Raiders take on the Hitmen on Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.
2014 WHL playoff picture
Prince Albert Raiders -- 31-30-5 -- 67 points: Ninth
- Games remaining: Six
- Home: Calgary, Brandon, Saskatoon
- Away: Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon
Red Deer Rebels -- 32-30-5 -- 69 points: Eighth
- Games remaining: Five
- Home: Swift Current, Kootenay, Edmonton
- Away: Medicine Hat, Edmonton
Brandon Wheat Kings -- 31-27-9 -- 71 points: Seventh
- Games remaining: Five
- Home: Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina
- Away: Prince Albert, Regina
According to the WHL’s tie breaking procedure, if the Raiders and Rebels were to finish the regular season tied in total points, the edge goes to the club with the most victories.
If the two clubs remain tied, the edge will go to the club with the most points in games between the two.
This season, the Rebels have collected six points against the Raiders who have tallied three. The two teams will not meet again this season as the Rebels took the season series three games to one.
Raiders take precautions in wake of meningitis risk
In the wake of Kootenay Ice forward Tim Bozon’s diagnosis with meningitis, the Raiders are taking some precautionary measures.
On Wednesday, Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Time-Herald reported that Sask Health recommended the Warriors take Rifampin, a preventative medication used by people that have been in contact with the Neisseria meningitides bacteria that can cause the illness.
Because Bozon did not make the trip to Prince Albert for the Ice’s tilt on Saturday, such a measure is not necessary for the Raiders, GM Bruno Campese said on Thursday.
“Our trainers have been in contact with different personnel and we didn’t have to go to that measure,” Campese said of the team taking preventative medication. “The whole league has been in contact with Sask Health and they have provided direction for the teams that need it."
Still, the Raiders are taking the necessary measures to ensure the safety of their athletes and staff.
“There are some precautions with the city that we took as far as making sure everything is disinfected and sterilized,” Campese said. “The only concern we had at all was making sure that everything was sterilized properly, which it is.”
On Wednesday, the Ice announced that Bozon, selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital where he remains in critical condition.