Nobody knows more about the Raids-Blades rivalry than Prince Albert Raiders forward Kolten Olynek.
He grew up watching his hometown Saskatoon Blades and their eight tangles a year with the Green and Gold. But this year, Olynek has played on both sides of the rivalry in this season alone, and is ready for the home-and-home series between the two clubs.
“I was thinking about it last night. I’ve played every game of this series except one, for two different teams each time,” Olynek said. “It’s going to be a fast-paced game. I know they’re still trying to make the playoffs and we’re trying to climb the standings too. Obviously, they’re two really meaningful games this weekend. It should be fun.”
After starting the year with the Raiders, he was waived at the start of October as the Raiders were working out their overage situation. Olynek was then picked up by the Blades and played the Raiders the following day, on Oct. 6. He also played the Oct. 29 game in Prince Albert wearing the double-blue Blades jersey. But he was waived by the Blades on Dec. 14 to get down to three 20-year-old players.
“It’s been an interesting year, but it’s been a fun year,” Olynek said.
Changing teams has not been exclusive for the 2016-17 season for Olynek. He’s been a journeyman of sorts, playing 242 games for five different teams in his five-year WHL career, which includes his two Raider stints this year. It all started when he was drafted by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the second round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.
“It’s been a pretty wild ride. To start off in Lethbridge, when you get drafted to a team, you think that’s going to be the one team you stick with for the rest of your career. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case for me, Olynek said. “I went from Lethbridge to Moose Jaw, to the states in Spokane, back here [in Prince Albert], to Saskatoon and then back here again. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I’ve seen a lot of places, got to know a lot of people, had a lot of coaches, great teammates and billets. I couldn’t have asked for a better junior career.”
The Raiders will close out February with a home-and-home series against the Blades. Both teams are playing at the SaskTel Centre on Friday, before an Art Hauser Centre meeting on Saturday.
The Raids-Blades rivalry will also wrap up the regular season with a home-and-home March 17-18.
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