Redden on the Raiders is an inside look from the voice of the Raiders on 900 CKBI, 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.
Wednesday morning, the Prince Albert Raiders loaded the bus at the Art Hauser Centre and headed west on the biggest road trip of the year, with games ahead in Cranbrook, Portland, Seattle, Everett, Tri-City, and Spokane over the course of 12 days.
Monday morning, the coaching staff and leadership group got together and decided to dub this The Odyssey, putting a more glamorous spin on what will be a gruelling trip. When the Raiders return, the team will play once at home Nov. 24 before The Odyssey resumes with another five road games in Moose Jaw, Cranbrook, Calgary, Edmonton, and Swift Current.
Leg one of The Odyssey took place Wednesday as the bus traveled from P.A. to Cranbrook, and I discovered the ingenuity of some of these players is something to behold. Of course, there are the old standby rituals of movies and card games to pass the time on the road, but the ante was upped by Cody Paivarinta and Curtis Meger who brought video game consoles and televisions on the bus.
After one day, the unanimous NHL 18 champion is goaltender Curtis Meger, and defenceman Austin Crossley is suspicious of his success.
“Meegs whooped me pretty good in NHL. He’s got some sort of plan going on, he gets all his settings just right… I think he’s cheating. He’s definitely cheating,” Crossley said.
Like many players on this team, I’ll be seeing these U.S. Division rinks for the first time, and look forward to seeing some of the bigger buildings and larger crowds around the league.
Anybody who watched the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring saw a whole different kind of atmosphere during games, and that seems to be a common thread amongst the American teams in the WHL. Not saying it is comparable to the bedlam that took place in Nashville, but it will be unique.
Cody Paivarinta made the trip with the Raiders two years ago, and said there is a noticeable difference.
“It’s a more intense crowd it seems sometimes. They like to get in your face, but it’s just real fun out there. Lots of things to see and do,” Paivarinta said. “The fans down there, they’re ruthless and they’ll say anything to get you off your game. They love their teams down there.”
Brayden Pachal spent a year and a half with the Victoria Royals, who make multiple trips a year into the U.S., and he echoed Paivarinta’s sentiments.
“First of all, the teams out there are outstanding this year. That division’s a tough division, so we’ve got to be on our top game. And their fans are a little more rowdy so there’s a lot of excitement in those rinks. It’s a lot of fun playing down there,” Pachal said.
Fonstad and Stallard’s helping hands
An interesting statistic was shared earlier this week by CHL statistician Geoffrey Brandow on Twitter.
#WHL Highest percentage of team's assists by a player:
1. A. Heponiemi, SC (22.3%, 25 of 112)
2. C. Fonstad, PA (20.0%)
3. G. Gawdin, SC (19.6%)
4. T. Lewis, BDN (19.3%)
5. P. Bajkov, EVT (18.4%)
6. T. Fix-Wolansky, EDM (17.7%)
7. J. Stallard, PA (17.6%)
8. K. Davis, EVT (17.2%)
— Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) November 8, 2017
I don’t think it’s a surprise to see Cole Fonstad and Jordy Stallard play such a prominent role in the Raiders offence this season, but I wouldn’t have guessed Fonstad would have an assist on every five goals scored so far.
For Stallard, trying to earn a contract with the Winnipeg Jets in his last year of junior, and for Fonstad, looking to impress NHL teams during his draft year, it’s been a tremendous start.
Habscheid recalls Russia
On Monday, the Raiders took practice on the road to Cudworth as the community held a party for the new artificial ice plant at the arena. The event raised over $14,000 toward costs of the new plant.
Not only did the team help out the community, but the coaching staff and players have all reflected on what a positive experience it was to get out to Cudworth, meet new people, and reach out to Raider fans from outside Prince Albert.
As I talked with Marc Habscheid about the experience, it reminded me of a story he told about some of the places hockey can take you.
“When I was playing with the Canadian national team, we were in Moscow and Dave King was very good at expanding your horizons and looking at different things in life. We had a chance as a team to go to the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. A lot of guys went, and we probably wouldn’t make a point to go again, but to go that one time and see the pomp and pageantry at that time… during the Cold War at the height of Communism in the mid-1980s, just for a unique experience it was quite something and I think that really stayed with me,” Habscheid recalled. “We went into East Germany to do things, we went to Poland and saw Auschwitz. We had all sorts of unique experiences that help you grow as people. I think that’s what we try to do here is help our players grow as people.”
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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