Prince Albert Raiders forward Carson Perreaux skating in a Nov. 1 matchup against the Regina Pats at the Art Hauser Centre. Herald photo by Perry Bergson
With 29 games to go in the regular season schedule, the Prince Albert Raiders playoff push is now in full gear.
Sitting in the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with a record of 22-19-2, the Raiders prepare to take on the Saskatoon Blades at the Credit Union Centre on Friday.
“Everyone believes that this team can go far,” Raiders forward Carson Perreaux said of the Raiders playoff aspirations. “I feel like there’s a lot of guys in our room that are leaders so when you add them to what we already have, it’s great.”
Friday’s tilt against the Blades will be the first between the two teams since the Raiders acquired a trio of Blades players in left wing Collin Valcourt, defencemen Graeme Craig and Ryan Coghlan prior to the Jan. 10 WHL trade deadline.
“They have a lot of experience and I feel like they fit in great with us,” Perreaux said of the newest additions to the Raiders roster that also include left wing Calder Brooks, acquired by the Raiders from the Calgary Hitmen on Dec. 28.
Perreaux, who has scored five goals in his past six games, agreed the four players acquired in trades this season filled some missing pieces of the Raiders roster necessary to make a major playoff run.
As the Raiders make a push for the playoffs, they’ll be looking ahead to winning their first playoff series since 2005. The Raiders have missed the playoffs once in their last three seasons and were ousted from the first round last season by the Red Deer Rebels in four games.
“Everyone is more focused lately since the break,” Perreaux said of the Raiders 5-3-0 run since returning to action from Christmas vacation on Dec. 27. “We’ve found the team that we are going to finish the season with so everyone is really excited and ready to go.”
Undefeated in five meetings with the Blades this season, the Raiders have outscored the provincial rivals 25-11 in that span.
While Valcourt, Craig and Coghlan will face their former team on Friday, so will ex-Raiders defencemen MacKenzie Johnston and Dylan Busenius. Johnston was dealt to the Blades in the deal which sent Craig to the Raiders, while Busenius was shipped to Saskatoon in exchange for Valcourt and Coghlan.
The combination of a heated rivalry between the Raiders and Blades and pitting former teammates against each other, should make for an interesting matchup on Friday, Perreaux said.
“There are three guys from their team that are now on our team, so everyone is going to be ready to go for that,” he said. “They are a huge rival for us so I think we are always ready for those games.”
Despite sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 12-31-4, the playoffs remain mathematically possible for the Blades.
As the Raiders prepare to take on a trio of division rivals on Friday and over the weekend, every point in the standings counts, Perreaux said.
“The boys are going to be pretty strong going into it,” Perreaux said of Friday’s East Division matchup against the Blades before the Raiders take on the Regina Pats on Saturday and the Swift Current Broncos on Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre. “Those points are huge. It’s going to be a huge six points for us this weekend.”
The puck drops at 7 p.m. on Friday when the Raiders take on the Blades on the road before returning home on Saturday to face the Pats at the Art Hauser Centre.