The Prince Albert Raiders are riding high as the top-ranked team in the CHL for a second straight week.
Their latest triumph, a 4-2 road win over the Moose Jaw Warriors improved their record to a CHL-best 14-1-0-0, outscoring opponents 72-28 in the process.
It’s a record start for the men in green led by WHL scoring leader Brett Leason, a 19-year-old winger enjoying a breakout campaign with 32 points (14-18–32) through 15 games. He’s found success alongside long-time linemate Sean Montgomery and Belarussian newcomer Aliaksei Protas.
“Brett and I formed a pretty good understanding last year and we’ve just brought that on further this season with Protas joining us,” Montgomery told Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald following a recent win. “They move the puck well and they both have good shots. Plus, they are a couple of big guys with long sticks, so that doesn’t hurt either.”
Leason’s continues a 15-game point streak and his 18 assists this season are a new career-high while Protas recently had a nine-game point streak.
Montgomery, a fifth-year Raider and former sixth round pick by the club in 2013, has 19 points (5-14–19) and continues to serve as a reliable presence down the middle.
“Sean doesn’t say much but he’s a smart player,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid noted. “The chemistry between him and Brett has been there since day one, and it’s really been noticeable since training camp.
“I think this is the first time that (Protas) has ever played on the wing in his life,” he continued, “but I don’t think he’s complaining too much as he’s been able to contribute with those guys and showcase what he can do.”
The Prince Albert attack also features another wave of talent in overage San Jose Sharks prospect Noah Gregor (4-6–10), Ottawa Senators prospect Parker Kelly (6-6–12), Montreal Canadiens draft pick Cole Fonstad (5-8–13) as well as Belarussian offensive blueliner Sergei Sapego (5-8–13).
Prince Albert’s last line of defence, fourth-year Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Ian Scott notched his second shutout of the young season on Tuesday, turning aside 24 shots as the Raiders improved to 7-0 at the Art Hauser Centre. He sits at 12-1, sporting a 1.54 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage through 13 games.
Tuesday’s win also provided a promising glimpse into the future for the Raiders, as 2017 first overall WHL Bantam Draft selection Kaiden Guhle recorded an assist and played one of his best games of the season while 2018 third overall selection Nolan Allan made his WHL debut on the blue line.
Things are looking up in Saskatchewan’s northernmost WHL outpost as the 2018-19 season has featured all kinds of fun to this point. The Raiders even set a record, getting three goals in a span of 16 seconds when Justin Nachbaur, Ozzy Wiesblatt and Parker Kelly beat Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier consecutively on September 30th.
The flurry marks a new franchise record, surpassing the prior benchmark of 22 seconds put together by Wade Bucsis, Mike Modano and Pat Elyniuk back in 1987. The three-goal spree also ties a WHL record.
It’s been 33 years since the Raiders last won a WHL Championship, the same year they hoisted the Memorial Cup in Drummondville back in 1985. They’re also in the hunt for their first East Division title since 1999.
The Raiders look to continue their run of success on Saturday when they play host to the Saskatchewan rival Regina Pats.
The KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight takes a closer look at one team from the weekly KIA CHL Top 10 Rankings.
Past KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight editions:
Sept. 26, 2018 – Halifax Mooseheads
Oct. 4, 2018 – London Knights
Oct. 11, 2018 – Victoria Royals
Oct. 18, 2018 – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies