Redden on the Raiders is an inside look from the voice of the Raiders, Trevor Redden. It is a mix of information, statistics, opinions, and stories from behind the scenes throughout the Raider season. Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments via Trevor's email or twitter at the bottom of the article.
The Raiders are now 67 per cent of the way through leg one of The Odyssey, with two wins against Kootenay and Seattle, and two losses against Portland and Everett.
This weekend, the team heads to Tri-City and Spokane for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday before making the long journey back to Prince Albert.
Thursday is an off day as the Raiders make the move from the Seattle area out to Tri-City, and based on what I saw Wednesday night in Everett, the off day comes at a good time as the team looked as sluggish as I’ve seen this year against a hard-working, tight-checking Silvertips team.
The narrative coming into the trip was that there would be no easy games in the five-team U.S. Division, and that is certainly holding true. The Seattle Thunderbirds, currently the fourth best team in the division, and the Silvertips, in fifth place, both play an extremely hard-working brand of hockey and made the Raiders fight for every opportunity.
On Tuesday night, Prince Albert was able to break through in the third period to pull out the win, but Wednesday in Everett was an uphill battle the Raiders couldn’t conquer. Not only did Everett play a stout defensive game, they had star goaltender Carter Hart turning aside anything the visitors were able to muster.
The road won’t get any easier on the weekend, but the Raiders will be going into Friday and Saturday’s games with two wins in mind.
My thoughts this week:
Sunday’s 6-1 loss in Portland was a tough one to swallow for Prince Albert for a couple reasons. Not only did the Raiders come out on the wrong side of a lopsided score, but the way it happened was frustrating to say the least. It was an evenly played game, with the Raiders generating plenty of chances while down one early in the third, but unable to beat goaltender Cole Kehler. Unfortunately, the officiating took a bizarre turn as the visiting team was assessed an absurd 10 straight minor penalties, leading to four 5-on-3 goals by Portland in less than 10 minutes, and turning an exciting, evenly-matched game into a runaway.
Understandably, the team was upset after the game, but hoped to shake things off on Tuesday in Kent against the Thunderbirds. In the first, the Raiders were their own worst enemy as they spent a considerable time in the penalty box. This time the penalties were well-deserved, and Seattle struck twice with 5-on-3 goals in the opening frame before taking a lead in the second.
The issue Tuesday wasn’t the fact that the Raiders were called so frequently in the first – they deserved what they got – but the standard completely changed in the second as Seattle committed infraction after infraction, including playing the puck with too many men on the ice and clearly shooting the puck over the glass from the defensive zone, without penalty. Prince Albert wasn’t helping themselves with their play, but the third period in Portland and the first two periods in Seattle left me scratching my head wondering what was going on.
As for Wednesday, I’ve got no beef with the officiating whatsoever. The Raiders found themselves in the box on eight occasions, and deservedly so. Everett had another gear the visitors couldn’t reach, and an undisciplined, uninspired effort was solely to blame for the Raiders loss.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on both the standard of officiating and the Raiders discipline on the final two games of the trip.
Not only has the trip been a good opportunity to get out and see some new cities for the team, but it’s been the same for many parents and family members that decided to come out to the West coast to catch a few games. The Raiders were well represented in every arena so far, providing some home away from home for the team.
Monday night at the team hotel in Kent, a dinner was held for the team as well as all family members that could make it. As part of a team building exercise, each parent was encouraged to share some funny stories about their sons, leading to a lot of laughs.
Ahead of Tuesday's game against the Thunderbirds, I asked Head Coach Marc Habscheid about what story he would have told about himself as a child. He told me about a time when he was young out on the old rink he was skating down the ice with a headband to cover his ears, but lost track of where he was going when the headband fell over his eyes, causing him to crash face first into the end boards.
Fonstad makes the list
After being omitted from NHL Central Scouting’s pre-season Players to Watch List, Raider forward Cole Fonstad made an appearance in the November list. The Estevan, Sask. native is the leading point producer amongst all 2000-born players in the WHL, and was given a C rating, which projects him as a potential mid to late-round draft pick in 2018.
Keep on rolling
All told, by the time the Raiders bus rolls in to Prince Albert on Sunday, the team will have spent more than 45 hours on the bus in the span of 12 days. Unfortunately the team won’t see much relief with one home game next Friday against Swift Current before another five straight games away from the Art Hauser Centre.
Welcome Nathan Kanter
This weekend, Nathan Kanter will be taking over the play-by-play duties on CKBI as the Raiders take on Tri-City and Spokane. Nathan is the voice of the Battlefords Stars on 1050 CJNB, and is relieving me as I head home for my brother’s wedding this weekend. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Nathan @NathanKanter11, otherwise catch him on the air this weekend!
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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