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.
Back on Nov. 19, the Prince Albert Raiders returned home after a 15-hour bus trip from Spokane, Washington following three straight losses against Everett, Tri City, and Spokane. Players and staff alike were ready for a break.
If you asked any of them at that point what they would think of picking up points in six of their next seven games, I’m sure every single person on that bus would consider that a success. Seven games later, that’s what the team has done with two wins, one regulation loss, two overtime losses, and two shootout losses in that span.
Make no mistake, these are positive results for a Raider team that needs to scratch and claw for positioning in the brutally tough East Division. However, looking at each of these games on a case-by-case basis, it’s hard not to get greedy and wish for a couple more points.
On Nov. 24 against Swift Current, a puck bounced up way into the rafters, lost by most on the ice except for Broncos captain Glenn Gawdin who corralled it in front and fired a quick shot home to eliminate a third period Raider lead and force extra time, with the Broncos finally winning in a shootout.
Later, on Dec. 2 in Edmonton, the Raiders found themselves down by two after a sluggish second period against the Oil Kings, but mounted an impressive attack in the third. Prince Albert outshot Edmonton 18-3 in the final frame, ringing the bar a couple times and missing several open net opportunities in the 4-1 loss.
On Dec. 5 again in Swift Current, the Raiders led the Broncos 3-2 and later 4-3, but couldn’t hold off the Broncos who came back once again and won 5-4 in overtime.
Finally on Dec. 6, Medicine Hat Tigers goaltender Jordan Hollett made 49 saves, including 21 in the third period, as the Raiders fell 5-4 in a shootout despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the visitors’ net.
You can look at the what ifs and if onlys until you’re blue in the face, but the bottom line is the Raiders have kept their heads above water through the toughest part of the schedule, and have played at a level that has them worthy of an even better fate than what they’ve received.
My thoughts this week:
Tough luck for Sapego
What an unfortunate break for Sergei Sapego in Calgary last weekend as he went down with an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.
The Belarussian defenceman came to the Raiders earlier this season from the Tri-City Americans, and quickly made an impact on the team. The coaching staff trusted him with power play time and he showed a great deal of composure with the puck. Considering how he has had to adapt not only to a new style of game in the WHL, but an entirely new lifestyle in North America, Sapego has fit in extremely well.
He had been invited to Team Belarus’ camp for this year’s World Junior Championship, but will not be able to compete due to injury.
All the best to Budik
By now, it’s old news that Vojtech Budik has been invited to training camp with the Czech Republic for the 2018 World Juniors, but just a quick note on this.
He is a consistently outstanding performer on the ice for the Raiders, and from what I’ve seen so far, he may be an even better person off the ice. Here’s hoping he makes the team and has a strong performance in Buffalo over the holidays.
Budik will leave for camp on Wednesday.
Tuesday night in Swift Current, the veteran trio of Curtis Miske, Devon Skoleski, and Sean Montgomery put on a strong performance with five points combined while going head to head a lot of the night against the Broncos’ top unit.
The trio had been quiet of late, spending some time split up on different lines last week, but they seem to be picking up again over the last few games. As the most experienced line on the team, these three are critical to the Raiders’ success.
It was a great experience calling my first games at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary and Rogers Place in Edmonton last weekend, with Marty Ring joining me for the latter of the two. However, it’s also given me a whole new appreciation for the broadcast view at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Saddledome is an iconic building, and the press box hanging high up over the ice provides a great overhead perspective on the game. In Rogers Place, the amenities are second to none in the state of the art home of the Oilers, but just like in Calgary you’re seated far from the playing surface.
There’s nothing like sitting right on top of the game in the press box in Prince Albert.
It’s Teddy Bear Toss season in the WHL, and the Raiders are up on Friday night as they host the Kamloops Blazers.
This is always a fun night and a great cause as the bears are distributed throughout the holiday season in the community. Fans are encouraged to bring new teddy bears or toques, wrapped in plastic bags, and toss them on the ice after the Raiders first goal of the game.
Teddy Bear Toss night is one of, if not the most, highly attended games of the year in many other markets. After a scant crowd on Wednesday night as the Raiders hosted the Tigers, let’s hope it’s a fuller house Friday.
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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