The future was on display for the Prince Albert Raiders as newly drafted forwards Cohner Saleski and Ozzy Wiesblatt got their first taste of WHL action this weekend.
This spring’s bantam draft was a big one for the Raiders, as they not only held the first overall pick, which was used to select defenceman Kaiden Guhle who also made his debut Sunday, but the team also held slots 17 and 25, used for Saleski and Wiesblatt, respectively.
The trio was in the lineup as the Raiders took on the Saskatoon Blades in a pre-season matchup at the Art Hauser Centre Sunday afternoon.
“It’s way faster than what I was used to playing, with a lot better players,” Saleski said. “It just makes you play that much better so I feel like I’m better for the experience.”
Saleski was drafted from the Saskatoon Stallions Bantam AA program after producing an astonishing 85 points in 30 games played last season. The Saskatoon native admitted it was a special experience to face his hometown in his first WHL contest.
“I actually was thinking when I was three or four I would have been watching the Blades, wishing I played for them. Now I’m playing against them so it’s really cool.”
Wiesblatt is from Calgary, and had a sensational season with the Bantam AAA Bisons, producing 73 points in 32 games played. Although his older brothers Ocean and Orca both play with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and are committed to the University of Vermont, Ozzy decided to choose a different direction.
“I think the choice for me going to the WHL or NCAA was pretty easy because I think I just want to make my own path and go where I think would be the best fit for me,” Wiesblatt said.
The youngest of the three brothers commented on the physicality of Sunday’s contest, but had no problem holding his own, saying “my older brothers are chippy guys, so I think I learned from them a little bit.”
The Raiders suffered a 4-3 setback in the pre-season opener and will look for redemption Friday night at 7 p.m. when the Blades return to the Gateway to the North.
Saskatoon 4 Prince Albert 3
1-0, Saskatoon, Ethan Mack from Payton McIsaac and Chase Wouters, 0:37
1-1, Prince Albert, Nikita Krivokrasov from Ozzy Wiesblatt and Kolby Johnson
2-1, Saskatoon, Ajrun Atwal from Michael Farren
2-2, Prince Albert, Spencer Moe from Adam Kadlec and D-Jay Jerome
3-2, Prince Albert, D-Jay Jerome from Cole Fonstad, 13:20 (SH)
3-3, Saskatoon, Payton McIsaac from Kyle Crnkovic, 7:38
4-3, Saskatoon, Michael Farren from Aiden De La Gorgondiere, 18:11
Prince Albert: Ian Scott, 24-28
Saskatoon: Koen MacInnes, 24-26, Nolan Maier 3-4
Following the game, the Raiders reassigned 12 players:
On Twitter: @nedderrovert
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