Raiders audition new talent
Midget AAA tryouts underway to fill several roster spots
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 06:00 am
The St. Albert Raiders are reloading their roster after graduating nine players from the midget AAA hockey team.
Only two players from last season – Harrison Klein and Jason Miller, the Brian Sutter Trophy recipient as the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League’s top defensive forward – were among the 47 hopefuls at Thursday’s tryouts looking to stick with the Raiders.
A number of prospective Raiders are attempting to make their junior teams.
“We currently have no returning defencemen and it sounds like we might not have any back,” said Sandro Pisani, co-coach of the Raiders with Umberto Fiorillo.
Among the graduating Raiders is Kyle Hehn, their leading scorer with 24 goals (third overall in AMHL) and 41 points (tied for third overall) in 34 games, Sebastian Auray (14 goals and 32 points in 33 games), first team all-star defenceman Tyler Dea and goalie Mitch Martell (12-6-1, 2.02 GAA, four shutouts and .912 save percentage).
The challenge of assembling a competitive roster despite the high turnover of players is a daunting task.
“Most years you typically have five or seven players back,” said Pisani, noting the AMHL is a development league for players to take the next step in their careers.
He is encouraged by how the tryouts have unfolded. “It’s gone pretty well. There have been a couple of kids that have come in and surprised us,” Pisani said of the sessions designed to see “who wants to compete and who competes hard.”
Last season the Raiders (19-9-6) placed second in the north and in the playoffs were eliminated by the fourth-place Lloydminster Bobcats (16-10-8) in game four in the best-of-five division semifinal after losing the league final the year before.
Pre-season action starts Monday against the K of C Pats at 6:15 p.m. at Bill Hunter Arena.
The Raiders also play the Maple Leafs at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Bill Hunter and the Southside Athletic Club at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Callingwood Recreation Centre.
The Raiders wrap up their six-game exhibition schedule with home games Sept. 18 against the Sherwood Park Kings at 7:45 p.m. and Sept. 22 against the Southside at 1:15 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena.
The Raiders open league play Sept. 28 against the Leduc Oil Kings at 1:15 p.m. at Akinsdale.
“It’s always exciting starting a new season,” Pisani said. “We’ve seen lots of good things in camp.”
ICE CHIPS: The Raiders host the Canadian Olympic women’s team, featuring St. Albert defenceman Meaghan Mikkelson, on Oct. 28 at 7:45 p.m. at Northstar Hyundai Arena.
On Jan. 10, 2010 the Raiders lost 4-2 to Team Canada in front of 2,300 spectators, the largest crowd to ever watch a hockey game at Servus Credit Union Place.