Prince Albert Raiders’ WHL title big boost to community spirit in city
The Prince Albert Raiders’ overtime victory in the Western Hockey League (WHL) final sent them to the Memorial Cup, but it also lifted the spirits of an entire city.
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With the Art Hauser Centre packed with loud fans on Monday night, Dante Hannoun scored the overtime winner against the Vancouver Giants in Game 7 and gave community spirit in Prince Albert a big boost.
“I can remember … when we won in (the 1984-85 season),” Raiders fan Lee Philipenko said.
“You tell these kids to enjoy it because it may only come once in your lifetime.”
Marc Habscheid has coached the Raiders for the last four seasons. During that time, the team has gone from 30 games below .500 to 40 games above .500 in the 2018-19 regular season.
The head coach was feeling proud on Monday night, knowing how much the win means to the team and the city.
“It impacts the organization because we’re a small-market team. A couple of years ago, we were probably getting 1,200 people in the building. No one cared about the Raiders. We were hanging on,” Habscheid said.
“You can do all the marketing you want, but winning is the best marketing.”
The team is now on the national stage, looking to add a second Memorial Cup title to their franchise.
“It’s been a long drought, and resulting in the fact that here we are. The champions for the west and now we go on to Halifax, and fingers crossed, I’m sure we’ll win the Memorial Cup,” Don Cody, deputy mayor of the City of Prince Albert, said.
The Raiders boarded a plane for Nova Scotia on Wednesday and face the host team, the Halifax Mooseheads, on Friday in the opening game.
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