Raiders’ prospects reflect on WHL Cup
Guhle, Brook thankful for experience representing home provinces
Prince Albert Raiders’ prospect Kaiden Guhle wishes he could have done more to help his team win, but he still cherished his time spent as an alternate captain representing team Alberta at the annual WHL Cup in Calgary.
Guhle and the Alberta team skated to a 4-3 overtime loss to team British Columbia in the yearly under-16 tournament that hosts bantam-level teams from Canada’s four western provinces.
In a repeat of the 2016 tournament final, Alberta squared off against B.C. on Sunday, but the west coast side turned the tables and unseated Alberta as reigning champions.
At 2:37 of overtime, Ryan Watson fired a waist-level slap shot on Alberta goalie Sebastian Cossa.
As the puck sailed through the faceoff circle on Cossa’s right side, B.C.’s Ben King kept his stick parallel to his waist and deflected the shot down and under the Alberta netminder’s glove.
The team piled on top of each other in jubilant celebration.
Guhle was on the bench during the goal.
“It makes you feel ‘could I have down anything else?’ But I trusted my teammates that were out there,” he said.
His first period goal opened the scoring for his team. Guhle scored a wrist shot on the powerplay at 8:34 of the first period.
He also assisted on the game-tying goal that sent it to overtime for his side.
At 18:16 of the third period, his slap shot from the point deflected off of B.C.’s goalie, and a waiting Connor McClennon tied it for Alberta on the rebound.
“We played well. B.C. got a lot better since the last time we played them. In OT it was pretty even. They had a couple good chances. And they had a good tip to win it. I’m still proud of the guys. Overtime brings everyone together.”
The Raiders selected Guhle first overall in the 2017 WHL bantam draft. He currently plays with the OHA Edmonton Prep club.
Despite the tough loss, he said it was amazing to see everybody on his team came together, “how everyone bought into their roles and was playing for each other.”
Representing Alberta, “meant everything” to him. His brother (and former Raider) Brendan Guhle was his inspiration for playing on the provincial team – the elder Guhle played with the 2012 gold-medal-winning team.
Fellow Raiders’ prospect Jakob Brook couldn’t have been more emphatic.
When asked what it meant to him to represent his province at the tournament, he replied, “Once in a lifetime. It was great to represent my province.”
Brook skated with team Manitoba, which repeated as bronze medal champions this year, beating prairie rivals Saskatchewan 4-2 on Sunday.
“It was a very amazing experience,” he said from Winnipeg on Tuesday.
The Raiders selected Brook 40th overall in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. He’s now eligible to be called up by the Raiders to play in regular season or post-season games this year, as well as preseason games next year.
He currently plays with the Rink Hockey Academy Prep Nationals in Winnipeg.
Brook’s first-period goal in the bronze medal game opened the scoring for either side.
At 5:53, Ty Thorpe directed his slap shot towards Brook, who was waiting on goalie Bryan Thomson’s right doorstep. Brook redirected the point-shot in, putting his side up 1-0.
“It was getting frustrating for me, because I hadn’t scored in the tournament (prior to that goal). It felt good to get that one.”
The win meant a lot for him and his teammates, who he said “left it all out there. We wanted it more than they did.”
Brook said now he’s going to continue playing with his Winnipeg club, hoping that he’ll get the call-up from the Raiders.
There’s also the chance he’ll be invited to try out for team Canada’s national under-16 team, based on his play in Calgary and throughout this season.
If that happens, he’ll find out next spring.
“It would be such an honour to get selected to the camp, let alone to make the team,” he said.
Jakob Brook (9) tries to control the puck against a team Alberta defender at the WHL Cup.