Raiders on a really good roll ~
Team in number one in the league
(originally published in The Times, November 22, 2017)

By: Ligia Braidotti

Above - The Raiders - winners of the MMJHL Championship last season

The Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s Raiders Junior Hockey Club is on a hot streak and the players want to keep it going. 

As of Nov. 17, the Raiders sat atop the MMJHL standings with a 14-1-2 record and 30 points. On Nov. 12, the team faced one of their biggest rivals, the Pembina Valley Twisters, and crushed them 6-1.

Team captain Nicholas Mathews said the Raiders were excited about their second win over the Twisters. Their first meeting, on Oct. 15, ended in a close 7-5 Raiders win. "From when I started, we played them in playoffs quite a lot and games get pretty heated, so it’s always a good, hard game against them," Mathews said. "We have a lot of competitors in the league that like to play tough on us."

One of the biggest contributors to the Raiders this season has been goalie Kyle McHolm, who joined from the St. Boniface Riels. "He’s got a veteran leadership role, and he’s been around the league for so long now. He’s adapted to the team, and he’s super-confident in the net with us, and we are super-confident with him behind us," Mathews added.

Right winger Nolan Wisniewski said the fact they have such a strong team and they all get along has helped them top the standings. It’s a ripple effect, he explained. "Everybody is having a good time but that also goes hand in hand with winning. It’s hard to have fun when your team is not winning," Wisniewski said. "We have lots of friendship in the group. Everybody seems to be getting along with the young guys that came in this year."

Wisniewski said the Raiders match up well with other teams because his teams has lots of fast forwards and plays with a lot of speed. "We are really good at moving the puck and as long our team is on our game, and we are on the ball, we don’t have too much difficulty."

While the MMJHL is very competitive, the Raiders are confident they can stay at the top. They have been balanced in all areas, Mathews added, but their offence has been powerful.  "We have four lines that can play (against) any line in the league. So we are not afraid to put anybody up against anyone," he said, adding this has been one of the closest groups he’s played with. "You can trust the guys. You know he’s going to go out there and do the best he can, and he can say the same about you." 

The team put its first-place spot to the test against the St. Vital Victorias on Fri., Nov. 17 and against the Transcona Railer Express on Nov. 19. Scores of those games are 4-2 and 4-0 respectively.    

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