Despite the frigid weather, the Raiders Jr. Hockey Club is on fire.
Since going 3-6 to start to the season, the Raiders haven’t lost a game in regulation. The team is now second in the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League (MMJHL), with a 18-6-2 record as of Dec. 16.
On Oct. 30, Lorne Sanders, president and GM of the Raiders, told The Times the slow start could probably be attributed to the fact the team had 14 new faces in the lineup, but said "Our young guys are talented. I think we’re going to be able to run with the big boys."
He was right.
"We’re just coming off November where Brenden Fiebelkorn (19-years-old) was the MMJHL goalie of the month and Nik Lynam is the league’s rookie of the month," Sanders said.
"Not only do we have a great roster of young guys but we have a couple affiliate players that have come up and played with us, and guess what, one of the affiliates (Chayce Viczina,
Garden City Fighting Gophers) scored a goal on Friday (Dec. 6) against St. James and then got the winner Sunday (Dec. 8) against Pembina Valley."
The kids are indeed alright, but the Raiders have definitely benefitted from a midseason injection of veteran leadership.
"Jordie (Jordan Lisowick, defence) came back, and he’s our captain now," Sanders said. "We got back Brett Overwater, another 21-year old-defenceman, and Ryan Magalas (the brother of the Raiders leading scorer Tanner Magalas), he graduated from the police academy and now he’s full-time. Those three 21-year-olds, they’ve pumped up our leadership, taking the young guys and showing them how we do things around here."
The Raiders young guns and wily vets have been great, but Sanders said the biggest reason for the team’s turnaround is its goaltending tandem of Fiebelkorn and Mat McIntosh.
"Our goaltending has been absolutely exceptional," Sanders said. "I think these guys have been good all along but they’re now on fire.
"Brenden is on a family vacation right now, so Mat stood on his head the other night against Pembina Valley, probably won us the game with his performance. Prior to that Fiebelkorn had been running with it because Mat was writing his Red Seal exam for plumbing. Fiebelkorn was outstanding and consequently the goalie of the month in our league."
"I’m really happy for those two guys. They’re buddies, they get along great and they’re both enjoying each other’s successes, which makes us successful."
For the Raiders schedule, stats and other information, go to www.mmjhl.ca