It’s a tough road ahead for the Prince Albert Raiders, with a trio of games this weekend against the top two teams in the WHL’s Eastern Conference before heading out on a grueling six-game, 12-day road trip through the western United States next week.
The Raiders carry considerable momentum into the weekend, having won the last three games and picking up points in seven of the last eight contests. The team is looking to keep it going Thursday night as they head to Moose Jaw to take on the Warriors (11-4) before returning home to the Art Hauser Centre for a Friday matchup against Swift Current (10-2-1) and a rematch with Moose Jaw on Saturday.
“We want to win every game we play, we’re not going anywhere to lose and that’s just the mentality we have. We have leadership meetings with our guys every Monday morning and talk to those guys a bit about that. They want the mentality of going in to win, and expecting to win and not hoping to win,” head coach Marc Habscheid said on facing some of the league’s toughest opponents.
“These are two really good teams, so no matter what it’s going to be a big ask so we really have to temper and be aware of our game and what we need to do. Aside from that we like our chances.”
Prince Albert faced the Warriors twice on opening weekend, falling 3-0 at home before dropping a 7-3 contest in Moose Jaw despite a 43-30 shot advantage. The Raiders and Broncos have yet to meet this season, but the Broncos carry the league’s best winning percentage into Friday’s game. Swift Current currently boasts three of the top four scorers in the WHL in Tyler Steenbergen, Aleksi Heponiemi, and Glenn Gawdin.
“Moose Jaw will be tough, we got close to them at the start of the year but couldn’t crack two wins, so we’ll be looking to get a couple points back from them,” forward Parker Kelly said. “Swift will be a good test, they’ve got that one line that’s (ranked) one, two, and four in league scoring I think, so that will be a good test for us to see if we can shut them down, but I think if we can contain that line then it should be good for us.”
Rhinehart away to don maple leaf
The Raiders will be without rookie defenceman Rhett Rhinehart for the next few games, as he will be competing with Team Canada Red at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C. beginning on Sunday. The tournament will feature three Canadian teams (Red, White, Black) taking on the top under-17 talent from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. This year, the gold medal game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 11, meaning Rhinehart will be joining the Raiders during the team's western road swing.
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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