THE TIMES - SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

Raiders Happy in New Home

Above image courtesy of Raider's File images. Not exactly as published.

By Jared Story

(AS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES 9/23/15)

The Raiders Jr. Hockey Club has scored a new home.

The Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League (MMJHL) team played the first game of its 2015-16 season in its new home, the brand new Seven Oaks Arena, on Sept. 20 against River East Royal Knights. The Raiders won 3-2.

Raiders president and GM Lorne Sanders said his team is ecstatic to have a state-of-the-art facility as its home rink. The team previously played its home games at Billy Mosienko Arena.

"Billy Mosienko was a pretty awesome facility and will be missed, they were so good to us, and yet, the stars have aligned. Seven Oaks is literally a state-of-the-art twin facility and has all the amenities and all the services," Sanders said.

"We’re still negotiating with the city, but we’re going to get our own dressing room. We’re confident we’re going get a deal done and we’re pretty close now. The kids can keep their equipment there and we can wash their uniforms. There’s quite a buzz in the organization."

Not only will the Raiders have access to Seven Oaks Arena’s two NHL-sized rinks, the team will only be a flight of stairs away from its training partner NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness, which is located on the second level of the facility.

"Scott Miller (NRG owner and president) is a dear friend of ours. Most of our kids, since they’ve played some type of hockey, soccer or lacrosse, Scott has trained them and now he’s our neighbour. They can go upstairs for the dryland component.

On the ice, the Raiders are coming off two very successful seasons, winning the MMJHL title in 2014 and making it to the finals in 2015.

Sanders expects the Raiders to once again contend for top spot. He said the team is absolutely loaded up-front.

"We know what we’re getting with Tanner Magalas. He put in a lot goals last year," said Sanders. Magalas scored 45 goals, tied for the league lead, and 63 points last season. Magalas potted two goals on Sunday against the Royal Knights.

"There are a few forwards that I expect to have breakout years. One is Nicholas Mathews, a 19-year-old, a dynamic player and a leader that is much loved in our dressing room. The other two are Kyle Jur and Chayce Viczina. We’re missing Mike Lazo, a pretty dynamic five-year Raider, but I expect Matthews, Jur and Viczina to have big years for us."

The Raiders are as solid in goal as they are up-front, with star tender Brenden Fiebelkorn returning to the crease.

Fiebelkorn had the lowest goals against average (2.09), most shutouts (5) and highest save percentage (.931) in the MMJHL last season.

On the blueline, the situation is a little less predictable, with a number of younger players on the roster.

"Coach Andy (Williamson) feels we have some really good prospects with size that are good puck movers and will bring a physical presence to the game. There’s lots of upside and they’re just going to get better," Sanders said.

Very predictable, however, is the effort the Raiders will get out veteran and team captain, Niklos Loeppky, who has 125 points in 157 career games with the Raiders.

Loeppky put up a goal and an assist against the Knights.

"He does it all," Sanders said. "He’s not even flashy. He’s wired one way with one speed, 110 miles an hour. He’ll jump on a hand grenade for his team. He’s a winner."

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