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On Tap: St. Albert's Raiders, Merchants and Sabres hockey coverage

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UPPER HAND – Chase Visser of the St. Albert Nektar Raiders has Spencer Florchuk pinned to the ice in last Saturday's 4-2 win over the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League. Tonight the first-place Raiders (25-1-4) host the Red Deer Chiefs (16-10-3) in the second-last game before the playoffs and puck drop is 8 p.m. at Jarome Iginla Arena. League play ends Feb. 15 for the Raiders against the Rangers (14-11-4) at 2:30 p.m. at JRC Arena. JOHN LUCAS/St. Albert Gazette

Raiders game

Tonight the St. Albert Nektar Raiders host the Red Deer Chiefs in the last home game before the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs.

Puck drop is 8 p.m. at Jarome Iginla Arena and the Raiders are 12-1-2 in St. Albert.

The Raiders (25-1-4) have the top spot locked up in the north division for the second year in a row and Red Deer (16-10-3) is tied for third in the south division.

The 2019 AMHL provincial finalists also have a first-round bye for a berth in the best-of-five north semifinals.

The Raiders are 17-0-2 since the team’s lone loss, 2-1 against the Sherwood Park Kings (9-14-6) Nov. 6.

The Raiders also finished 2-1-1 at the Mac’s Cup in Calgary during the Christmas break as the defending champions.

League play wraps up Feb. 15 for the Raiders against the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers (14-11-4) at 2:30 p.m. at JRC Arena.

Merchants game

The St. Albert Merchants have one game left before the playoffs kick off in the Capital Junior B Hockey League.

Sunday’s start time is 8 p.m. against the Stony Plain Flyers (19-16-1) at Jarome Iginla Arena

The best-of-three qualifing round in the west division between the third-place Merchants (23-14) and sixth-place Spruce Grove Regals (4-29-3) starts 8 p.m. Friday in St. Albert. Game two is 7:45 p.m. Feb. 16 at Spruce Grove and game three, if needed, is 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at St. Albert. 

The winner plays the defending Founders Cup champion Beverly Warriors (29-7-1) or North Edmonton Red Wings (29-7-1) in the best-of-five west quarter-finals.

Last year’s Merchants finished fourth in the west at 14-19-5 and in the playoffs swept the fifth-place Mustangs in the first round and lost the quarter-final series to first-place Beverley in three games.

The fifth consecutive victory and seventh in eight games for the Merchants was Wednesday’s 12-2 dismantlement of the last-place Edmonton Mustangs (3-34) at Bill Hunter Arena.

Aidan West's two goals and two assists, Ryan Cooper's hat-trick and Scott Lancaster's three assists and four points paved the way to victory.

Josh Antunes and Jack Langenhahn potted a pair apiece, Jacob Karran and affiliate Jayden Antunes also scored and Landon Bishop and Marco Runco had three helpers each.

Shots were 53-32 and Mitchell Reidy (10-8, 3.77 GAA) was in net.

Sabres game

The next game for the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres is Monday in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.

Faceoff is 6:45 p.m. against MLAC (21-5-2) at Jarome Iginla Arena.

The Sabres (21-5-2) are the top team in the north conference with five games remaining before the best-of-three nitro division opening round starts.

In the overall AMBHL standings, the Sabres and Calgary Flames (22-5) are tied for second behind the Red Deer Rebels (22-2-3).

Jeff Hansen

About the Author: Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.
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