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.
This week, the Raiders are performing the hockey version of a touch-and-go landing, which is common training for pilots. You bring the airplane in to the runway, you bring all tires to the ground, and then you immediately accelerate and take off again.
After a 12-day road trip through the Pacific Northwest, the Raiders are home this week gearing up for Friday night’s game against the Swift Current Broncos. Next, the team hits the road for the third of four trips to Moose Jaw this season on Saturday, followed by a three-game swing through Kootenay, Calgary, and Edmonton next week. After returning from Edmonton, the team heads to Swift Current to complete a chunk of the schedule featuring 11 of 12 games on the road.
My thoughts this week:
I’m looking forward to Friday night’s contest at the Art Hauser Centre, with the Raiders honouring the 1982 Centennial Cup champion team and wearing some outstanding commemorative jerseys for the game against the Broncos. In addition, DJ Anchor should make it a fun atmosphere with the '80s music all night.
It’s great to see this Raiders team being honoured, as the pre-WHL history of this franchise is impressive to say the least. Through 11 seasons in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, the team never had a losing season. The lowest finish was third place.
Additionally, the Raiders won the league title eight times, including a run of seven straight prior to the jump to the WHL in 1982. They won the Anavet Cup (Saskatchewan champion versus Manitoba champion) in each of those seven straight years, and advanced to the Centennial Cup national championship five times, winning four of them. The lone loss came in 1978, a four-game sweep by the Guelph Platers.
The SJHL Raiders are amongst the greatest Junior A franchises in Canadian history, and the 1981-82 team stands out above the rest. In 60 games, the Raiders had 57 wins and three losses, finishing in first place in the SJHL, winning the Anavet Cup, and dropping Guelph in four straight games to take the national championship.
As for the '80s themed evening, Marc Habscheid had the line of the week:
“I guess all my suits will be in style that night no matter which one I pick.”
Fonstad focused on task at hand
In this blog last week, I mentioned Cole Fonstad earned recognition in NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list for November after being left off the list in September.
I asked Cole this week about the added pressures associated with his draft year, particularly when these rankings came out, and he had a good answer.
“Obviously you think about it when you see it on social media and stuff, but you’ve just got to block it out. I think, for me, I just want to play my best,” said Fonstad. “You want to get recognized, and I know I’m a good player, I know I’m good enough to be on those lists, but at the end of the day they’re not drafting you, it’s the teams that draft you. It only takes one team to like you and you’ve just got to go play your game, play with confidence. If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t you’ve just got to keep working hard.”
12 Raiders are participating in Movember fundraising this season, and have collectively raised $4,210, surpassing their goal of $4,000. So far, Fonstad is in the lead with $800 raised.
Home and away
The good news: Prince Albert won 70 per cent of its games on home ice this season, and after the game in Swift Current on Dec 5, 57 per cent of the remaining schedule will be played at the Art Hauser Centre.
The bad news: The Raiders have won just 29 per cent of road games this season, and are faced with another five in a row beginning on Saturday.
Obviously, a big part of the disparity is the advantage of having last change on home ice. We’ve seen the coaching staff do an excellent job with matchups this season, including the 5-1 victory over Swift Current on Nov 3 in which the five-man unit of Brayden Pachal, Vojtech Budik, Devon Skoleski, Curtis Miske, and Sean Montgomery went head-to-head with the Broncos’ top line all night, limiting them to a single power play goal.
Away from home it’s a lot tougher to create those matchups, and long road trips can take a toll on the team physically and inhibit development as a unit.
“When you’re out on that trip for ten days, you get no time to practice so no matter how much video you do, or talking or board work or whatever you do, your game is always going to get fractured in some areas,” Habscheid said.
As gruelling as the schedule has been this month, the Raiders will be through the worst of it by early December. After next week’s road trip through Kootenay, Calgary, and Edmonton, the Raiders will only have two multi-game road trips remaining (three games each), while the other 14 away games will be against divisional opponents where the team returns to Prince Albert after the game.
Thanks to Nathan
Anybody who listened to the broadcasts in Tri-City and Spokane last week heard a new voice as Nathan Kanter, the voice of the Battlefords North Stars on 1050 CJNB, filled in so I could return home to stand in my brother’s wedding on Saturday.
I was able to catch bits and pieces of the games, and have heard nothing but positive feedback from anybody who tuned in. A big thank you goes out to Nathan for making the trip out West and doing an excellent job!
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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