Raiders ready to roll
Midget AAA home opener is today at 1:15 p.m. against Leduc
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 06:00 am
The St. Albert Raiders unveil their winning line-up this weekend when the puck drops in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.
Today at 1:15 p.m. the Raiders host the Leduc Oil Kings at Akinsdale Arena and Sunday they play the KC Pats at 2:15 p.m. at Bill Hunter Arena.
In the pre-season the Raiders finished 5-1.
“The guys are ready to get going. We’re fired up,” said Jason Miller, a returning centre from Spruce Grove.
Miller, forward Harrison Klein and goalie Pat Gora are the only Raiders back from the second-place 19-9-6 team in the north and division semifinalists.
“We’re pretty much role models for the rest of team. We’re the ones that have to set the example, just like the others did last year,” Miller said.
The 23-player roster includes goalie Pat Dea – the Alberta Minor Midget AAA Hockey League’s most valuable player last season with the St. Albert Flyers, who was beaten out by 19-year-old Tyler Santos for the backup spot on the Edmonton Oil Kings – Ethan Lazaro, the Flyers’ top scorer with 18 goals and 46 in 32 games, Conner Lukan, who notched 17 goals and a team-high 31 points in 26 games for the midget 15 Spruce Grove Saints, and defenceman Brendan Kallis, the Flyers’ captain who had 23 points in 32 games.
Last season’s affiliates, Kole Bryks on defence and Matt McNeill at forward, are also part of the team.
“We’re looking really good this year, much like last year. We have a lot of depth. We’re looking real good on the back end. We’ve got good goalies too and that helps a lot,” said Miller, 17.
Last season the five-foot-nine sparkplug potted seven goals and added 11 assists in 34 games. He was used in a defensive role after compiling 23 goals and a team-leading 58 points in 38 midget 15 games for the Saints.
“It was a very successful season for myself,” Miller said. “I came from a big scoring role from midget 15 and going into a defensive role was a big job but it worked out in my favour.”
Miller’s defensive abilities were recognized by the AMHL’s coaches and managers in voting for the Brian Sutter Award.
Previous winners of the top defensive forward award from the Raiders were Mike Klassen in 1995/96 and Thomas Foster in 2011/12.
“It was really awesome to be actually honoured for that,” Miller said. “It got my confidence up there pretty good.”
He will be counted on to pack more offensive punch while still playing stellar defence.
“My role this year is pretty much swapped from last year. I played a lot of PK last year and this year I will maybe play a lot of power play and provide a lot of support on the front end,” said the Grade 12 Spruce Grove Composite High School student.
His main objective is to help the Raiders go as far as they can.
“The goal is get the team to the Telus Cup. That’s our goal as a team in general,” he said. “As for personal goals, I just want to put points on the board and keep doing that.”