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Raiders battling 'November blues'

On Saturday the Raiders will take on the South Side BP Athletics at Bill Hunter arena, while Sunday will see them match up against the Maple Leaf Beverly Optimists at Bill Hunter arena. 
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Raiders captain, Ty Hodge (left), battles with Rangers defender, Matthew Gomez (right), during the first period of their game at Jarome Iginla Arena on Nov. 14, 2021. PRESTON HODGKINSON/St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert U18 AAA Nektar Raiders are in the midst of a two-game slump after coming up short in both of their games last week.

They opened up the week with a 2-0 loss to the Leduc Wilhauk Jerky Oil Kings and then closed it out with a disappointing 5-2 defeat at the hands of the league-leading Fort Saskatchewan Straightline Dodge Rangers. 

They remain firmly in second place of the North Division U18 AAA Alberta Elite Hockey League with an 8-4-1 record and 17 points, seven points out of first place and three clear of third place.

The slump extends past their previous two games as the team has battled what head coach Jack Redlick called the “November blues.” Three of the team’s four total losses have come over the last four games. 

“It’s predictable behaviour in essence and we see it every year,” said Redlick. “Usually during this time of year what happens is the lustre of making the team and the due diligence of making sure everything is squared away starts to go away.

“The guys start to take a breath and with that you generally see that some guys don’t get off to the start they thought they’d have and that causes confidence issues.” 

Frustration crept in for the Raiders as they entered the third period of the Fort Saskatchewan game. It was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Rangers steal away any momentum from the Raiders at every turn. 

The game got out of hand thanks to undisciplined penalties and the Rangers danced to their 11th win of the season. One of the penalties led to a five-minute major and game misconduct for Xander Schulte, who is expected to serve a suspension. 

Redlick wanted to make it clear that, no matter the level of frustration, the Raiders must control their emotions and manage the game. 

“Whether you’re frustrated or not you need to make sure you are focused and go through our 10-second revolutions,” said Redlick. “The only way that they’re going to get out of it is attention to detail, commitment to one another, and to our game plan, and to be frank a lot of sweat and blood.” 

Captain Ty Hodge said the team needs to get back to playing their game. 

“We just need to stick to the program,” said Hodge. “We need to start working harder and do the little things right.” 

It was a less-than-ideal attempt to try to break out of the slump. The Rangers sit alone at the top of the league. Hodge doesn’t want that to be an excuse for the team. 

“We all kind of knew [that the Rangers] were a really good team,” said Hodge. “We all came into that game knowing it would be a hard game and a hard team to play against and we didn’t come out as good as we wanted to be.” 

The Raiders will look to get back into the win column with a pair of games this weekend.

On Saturday they will take on the South Side BP Athletics at Bill Hunter arena, while Sunday will see them match up against the Maple Leaf Beverly Optimists at Bill Hunter arena. 

About the Author: Preston Hodgkinson

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