Prince Albert, Sask. – The Prince Albert Raiders are proud to announce their leadership group for the 2019-20 season.
Defenceman Zack Hayes has been named the 43rd captain in Raiders franchise history. Alongside Hayes, Jeremy Masella, Aliaksei Protas and Brayden Watts will serve as alternate captains for the season.
“He’s been through thick and thin with us,” Marc Habscheid, Raiders Head Coach said on Hayes. “He knows exactly what it’s all about. He knows the organization and the coaching staff and the city as well as anybody. He’s deservedly the captain.”
“It’s something that I’ve dreamed of, and it came true,” Hayes said.
Hayes, a Calgary, Alta. product, was selected by the Raiders in the ninth round, 184th overall, at the 2014 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. Including this season, he has played in 217 career regular-season games as a member of the Raiders with 30 additional postseason contests, earning 64 points (11G-53A). Hayes was also named the Century 21 Lionel Diehl Memorial Hardest Working Player of the Year for the 2018-19 campaign.
“It’s a great honour and responsibility to have that letter on,” Hayes added. “A lot of the guys can have that letter on, but I was lucky enough to be chosen.”
The overage blueliner recently returned from NHL and American Hockey League (AHL) training camps with the Anaheim Ducks and San Diego Gulls; respectively. In five games this season, Hayes has three points (2G-1A). Hayes served as an alternate captain last season and for the first five games of the 2019-20 season.
Masella was also an alternate for the first five games of the 2019-20 season and earned the letter on his sweater for the rest of the season.
The Phoenix, Ariz. native was acquired by the Raiders from the Victoria Royals at the 2018 WHL Trade Deadline. Since joining the team, Masella has played in 110 games, recording 25 points (4G-21A). Last season he played in all 68 games, scoring 14 points (2G-12A). He also dressed in all 23 games during the 2019 WHL Playoffs, adding six points (1G-5A) to his tally. Masella was named the Raiders’ 2018-19 Parkland Ambulance Humanitarian of the Year. Through nine games this year, Masella has notched four points (1G-3A).
Protas was picked 26th overall in the 2018 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft out of Vitebsk, Belarus. In his first WHL campaign, he collected 40 points (11G-29A). His production increased during the Raiders’ run to the 2019 Rogers WHL Championship Series, scoring 22 points (12G-10A). Protas’ performance through the regular season and WHL Playoffs was noticed and he was subsequently drafted in the third round, 91st overall, at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals.
Protas leads the Raiders in scoring with 14 points (6G-8A) through nine games this season.
Watts, from Bakersfield, Calif., was acquired by the Raiders on September 24 from the Vancouver Giants. Last season, Watts was part of a rotating group of players that served as alternate captains with the Giants.
Since joining the Raiders, the overage forward has fit in well offensively with 10 points (4G-6A) in seven games. Watts is a veteran of 260 regular-season games in the WHL and another 34 in the postseason totalling 121 points (50G-71A). He was a third-round selection, 62nd overall, by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
“I think if you look at them all, they’re all winners,” Habscheid said of the alternate captains. “The only one that didn’t win a championship was Watts and he came down to Game 7 in overtime and was a leader on that team.”
The Raiders hit the road for their next five games as they embark on their biennial U.S. Division road trip, which begins on Saturday, October 19 (8:05 p.m. PT) against the Everett Silvertips in Everett, Wash.