Some of the best junior hockey in Canada is being played in Prince Albert right now.
The Raiders are in the midst of a seemingly impossible season. One where they have lost just one game in 27. Currently, the club is riding a 19-game win streak.
Leading scorer Brett Leason has point in 27 straight games – second best in WHL history – and knocking on the door for the title.
He leads the WHL in points (60), goals (27), shorthanded goals (5), game-winning goals (7) and his plus/minus is at 42.
The Raiders goaltender Ian Scott allows less than two goals a game (1.61) and saves 94.3 percent of the shots he faces.
In a word, the team is incredible, virtually unstoppable in some ways, but they don’t take their winning ways for granted.
“We haven’t accomplished anything,” head coach Marc Habscheid said after Saturday’s game in Regina. “There’s no trophies for 26-1 or whatever. It’s unfortunate – we’d like to get trophies for 26-1 – but they don’t give em out … our goal is at the end of the year so it’s nice, of course, to have the record that we do but it means nothing if we don’t take care of it towards the end.”
So instead, Habscheid prefers the team focuses on getting better. Not all games are going to be pretty ones, in fact, Saturday’s against the Pats wasn’t even if the score was 5-2 for P.A., but gritting them out is all part of the process.
It’s what he expects his team to do.
“It’s a good character bunch we have a good leadership in the room and they just don’t like losing,” Habscheid said. “Usually we’re more in sync and today we were out of sync a little bit – passes weren’t crisp or anything like that but we found a way and that’s what it’s all about.”
And this is a team that finds away over and over again.
In its lossless November, the club averaged 5.1 goals a game.
On Wednesday the Raiders hit 25 wins on the season, a marker it didn’t hit until Feb. 23 last season. That same night the team hit 12 road wins – something it didn’t do at all last season.
So what changed?
“I think we just all started to buy into the systems and what the coaches were preaching,” offered forward Sean Montgomery. “We realized that ‘hey, we have a good team here’ and we kind of built some confidence at the end of the last year and we started this year strong and keep improving every day.”
It helps, like Habscheid mentioned, to have good leadership in the room and a group of players that love being around each other.
“We have tonnes of fun every day. Even at the end of last year, we were starting to have fun,” Montgomery said. “We got a really good group of guys, lots of older guys that have been around for a while so we kind of know what to expect from everyone. It’s a blast right now.”
And perhaps that friendship, that feeling of joy every time they step on the ice is the key to what’s happening in Prince Albert – Habscheid seems to think so.
“Just the togetherness of the group really helps us too. They’re a close-knit bunch and all on the same page. They pull for one another and that definitely is probably the most important thing on our team.”
The Raiders will have a chance to win their 20th straight game in Swift Current on Tuesday night.
Puck drop is 7 p.m. At the Credit Union i-plex.