After appearing in two games with the Prince Albert Raiders as a 15-year-old last season, Rhett Rhinehart is ready to secure a full time roster spot this year.
The 13th overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft spent last season in Abbotsford, B.C., where he attended the Yale Hockey Academy. In 25 games played at Yale, Rhinehart produced 30 points, and tied for tops among all defencemen in the league. Heading into his 16-year-old season, the first in which he’s eligible to play with the Raiders full time, the 6’3” defenceman looks to take the next step.
“I’ve been waiting all summer, working hard. It’s finally here and I’m excited to get going,” Rhinehart said. "It's always been a goal of mine to play in the Western Hockey League and now it’s my time to shine so I’m going to do what I can to make sure I’m on that roster.”
Rhinehart said last season’s experience in Prince Albert not only exposed him to a higher level of competition, but it gave him an inside look at the style the Raiders coaching staff expects from their players. In an exit interview with assistant coach Dave Manson, the Lloydminster native was told “it’s not about what you do with the puck, it’s without the puck. Getting to the right areas, helping out your teammates, and working on skating and agility.”
It was a busy summer for the young defenceman, spending a week in Calgary in early August at Hockey Canada’s National Under-17 Development Camp. In addition to seeing how his game stacks up to the country’s elite, Rhinehart enjoyed meeting many players he had played against, and many from Eastern Canada that he had not.
The battle to make this year’s Raiders squad will continue throughout the weekend, culminating with Saturday night’s Green and White game, followed by the Young Guns game against Saskatoon on Sunday afternoon.
On Twitter: @nedderrovert
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