Off the ice, the Prince Albert Raiders have kept busy during an oddly quiet stretch of just three games in 20 days from Oct. 25 to Nov. 14.
In addition to practice, workouts, video sessions, and school work for some, the Raiders have been engaged in the community on several different fronts.
The team continued its regular visits with patients at the Victoria Hospital, and with residents at the Mont St. Joseph home. In addition, this week the children at Hope’s Home Daycare had a visit from a few of their favourite players.
On Monday, several players got a taste of what life is like for the men and women at the Prince Albert Fire Department as they were shown a few of the tricks of the trade.
Brett Leason, Parker Kelly, and Ian Scott have all returned to Prince Albert after appearing with Team WHL at the CIBC Canada Russia Challenge on Monday and Tuesday.
I missed most of the game on Monday night but caught the highlights, including a great setup by Brett Leason on Jordy Bellerive’s game winner, and a stellar 27 save effort by Ian Scott. Tuesday I was able to see almost all of it and came away impressed with both Leason and Kelly’s performances while Scott had the night off as David Tendeck took over the crease in his home arena in Vancouver.
The next question is who will Hockey Canada invite to camp ahead of World Juniors?
With last year’s team being heavy on 19-year-olds, only three players are eligible to return for a second year. Just one of those three, Alex Formenton of the London Knights, is currently playing junior. Maxime Comtois remains with the Anaheim Ducks, and Robert Thomas with the St. Louis Blues. There is still time for one or both to be returned to the junior teams, but we know that there will be a minimum of 19 first-time participants on Team Canada.
No Raiders were named to this summer’s 40-man showcase roster, but the hot start of the team has certainly created a discussion.
While a potential world junior invite is several years down the road for 16-year-olds Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Wiesblatt, they’re learning what Hockey Canada is all about this week at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in New Brunswick.
After falling to Sweden in Thursday’s quarterfinal, Wiesblatt and Canada Black face Canada White in the fifth-place game Friday.
Canada Red, captained by Guhle, advanced to the semifinals in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 overtime win over the United States on Thursday, and now take on Finland in Friday’s semifinal matchup.
Take it with a grain of salt, but Guhle was included on Craig Button’s top 20 list of prospects for the 2020 NHL draft. With nearly 20 months between now and draft day, a lot will change between now and then, but Guhle is obviously very much on the radar as Button has him at number 16.
The torch for the Canada Games made a stop in Prince Albert on Thursday on its way to Red Deer — this year’s host city.
Several dignitaries were on hand to welcome the torch and the games delegation, and Raider defenceman Jeremy Masella showed his versatility by being the co-MC of the event. Born in Montreal before later moving to Phoenix, Masella is fluent in English and French, and was able to handle all French components of the program.
Great job by Jeremy who looked comfortable at the mic in front of the media and attendees.
As noted by GM Curtis Hunt, the Canada Games could have a significant amount of Raider representation this winter, as up to six under-16 prospects are in the mix to represent Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba at the hockey tournament portion of the event.
The last Canada Winter Games were held in 2015 in Prince George, and the hockey portion featured future Raiders Ian Scott [Alberta], Brett Leason [Alberta], Brayden Pachal [Saskatchewan], and Max Martin [Manitoba].
It’s an impressive promotion for Raider alum Jeremy Colliton, who was named the new Head Coach of the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this week.
While much of the media discussion has understandably been placed on the shock of three-time champion Joel Quenneville being let go, the promotion of Colliton is a big vote of confidence in the 33-year-old. Colliton is six years younger than the team’s oldest player Chris Kunitz.
A native of Blackie, AB, Colliton began his coaching career midway through the 2013-14 season after he retired as a player and was named the interim head coach of Mora IK in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-highest professional league. The interim tag was removed after that year and he became the full-time coach for the next three years.
Ahead of last season, Colliton moved back overseas, joining the Rockford Ice Hogs who are the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate as Head Coach. That position lasted just over a season before he was promoted to the top job in the organization this week.
It won’t be easy replacing a legend like Quenneville, but it’s a great opportunity.
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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