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 Odyssey continues for the Prince Albert Raiders this weekend with a pair of road games against the Calgary Hitmen and the Edmonton Oil Kings.
It’s been a battle so far, with seven road games played in the span of 19 days, and in that segment the Raiders have a record of 3-4-1 after Wednesday night’s overtime loss to the ICE.
Frustration was evident in Cranbrook as the Raiders struggled to get things going in the opening 40 minutes, but the team was able to turn it on before it was too late. Parker Kelly’s shorthanded goal in the third period to tie the game was a huge moment for the group, allowing the Raiders the opportunity to pick up a point.
Brayden Pachal was very candid after the game, saying that the team was “terrible” in the first two periods, but recognized the significance of the third period comeback effort.
“Good teams find a way to win, and we came close, but I think we let it slide there in the first two periods, and I think we all know we’ve gotta be better going into the weekend.”
These are my thoughts this week:
Patrick reflects on life as a Raider
Ahead of Wednesday’s game, I spoke with Kootenay ICE Head Coach James Patrick. Patrick was a member of the Raiders in 1980-81, helping the team to its third of four Centennial Cups in franchise history. After his season with the Raiders, Patrick was drafted 9th overall by the New York Rangers.
Patrick went on to play NCAA hockey at North Dakota before a stellar NHL career with 1,280 regular season games under his belt. Thinking back on his time in Prince Albert, Patrick had a lot to say:
“It was the best time of my life, it was the most fun I’ve had playing hockey. I played with maybe the best captain, Peter Anholt, that I’ve ever played with,” he said.
“There were some great players…Dave Tippett was the best player of the league, Bobby Lowes was heart and soul, Robin Bartell…so many phenomenal guys, all taught and led by Terry Simpson who was a teacher and mentor for me. He had a big part of my development, and he really put the fear in you to lose. Compete, work hard, battle, and hate to lose, that was Terry. I remember the first game we lost, we went about seven or eight and then we lost a game, and I was pretty casual about it coming into the dressing room. After he got through with us, I was as scared as could be.”
Patrick spoke glowingly of the community, saying he loved living in Prince Albert, and was convinced to go there by the late Brad McCrimmon, who played with James’ older brother Steve with the Brandon Wheat Kings after two years in Prince Albert.
James had already committed to North Dakota, and needed to decide where to play Tier II junior. McCrimmon got wind of this and put in a phone call stating that there is “no other place to go” but Prince Albert.
Patrick said a big part of the success of that team was in Terry Simpson’s ability to find diamonds in the rough, and find the type of player that wants to get better.
“Mark Odnokon was the heart and soul. A guy who, at the start of the year I didn’t think was a very good skater and he just kind of competed and fought anyone. At the end of the year, he was maybe our best player in the playoffs and he just willed himself to be a great player. Just the depth of talent and guys who you’d look at them and think, ‘oh he didn’t skate that well.’ Terry had a way of teaching and discovering talent, and making us all accountable, but not one guy was bigger than the other.”
As of Thursday, the Raiders would be in second place in the Central Division, but instead sit fifth in the stacked East Division, good enough for the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
This is the way it works out in any league from one year to the next, as the Central Division was dominant over the East as recently as 2013-14. As tough as playing in the East Division is, there's an opportunity for the Raiders to take advantage of Central Division matchups to pick up points. However, the standings don't have any impact on the game once the puck is dropped, and the Raiders need to find a way to play at a high level no matter the opponent.
Prince Albert played some of its best hockey of the season on the weekend against Swift Current and Moose Jaw, but had a bit of a letdown against Kootenay on Wednesday. This weekend, the Raiders will need to come out quick against Calgary and Edmonton.
After Kelly’s shorthanded goal in Kootenay on Wednesday night, the Raiders are now tied for seventh in the WHL with four goals on the penalty kill so far.
The penalty kill has been a curious case this year, as the Raiders have the league’s number one kill rate at home (88.2 per cebt) and the #17 rate on the road (71.8 per cent). The shorthanded goals are evenly split with two at home and two away.
The ability to score on the kill is a huge asset on the road where the shorthanded unit has been struggling, as it creates a threat that the opponent needs to respect.
Ten Raiders joined in on a fundraising campaign this month, earning money for men’s health issues by growing moustaches for Movember. The group set a goal to raise at least $4,000, and as of Thursday, had raised $4,751, a job very well done by the players.
Additionally, there is a lot of pride on the line as we’ve launched a fan vote on twitter to establish who is the fans’ choice for best moustache this year. You can cast your vote on my Twitter timeline below.
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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