Raiders’ changes has Gardiner excited for 2015-16

The more things change in Prince Albert, the more they stay the same for Reid Gardiner.

As he will tell you, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The 19-year-old forward is coming off his best season with the Prince Albert Raiders where he recorded career-highs in goals (34), assists (30), and points (64). It would have been easy for Gardiner to take a step back from his hockey dreams after being passed over in last summer’s National Hockey League Entry Draft, but instead, he has continued to push to make himself the best player he can be.

That effort has him ranked 162nd by NHL Central Scouting for 2015.

“I put a lot of emphasis on it last year and it obviously didn’t work out,” shared Gardiner. “If I get drafted I will be extremely excited, but if I don’t, then I will keep working hard and keep positive.”

While his training program has not changed, Gardiner made the decision this summer to live in Saskatoon so he could get more time on the ice. In the past, the Humboldt, SK native would have to drive out of town to lace up the skates. In Saskatoon, he will be able to train in a facility with a gym and ice on a regular basis. His goal is to work on his lower body to improve his skating and to be stronger come training camp.

Last week, Gardiner travelled back to Prince Albert and spent time with fans during Saskatchewan Tourism Week. It was the first chance for him to come to town since the season ended and catch up on some of the changes going on around the organization.

“Change doesn’t feel very good at first, we are going to miss some people,” said Gardiner. “But changes can be a good thing.”

Last winter Gardiner and his Raider teammates got a firsthand taste of what changes can mean to a team when Marc Habscheid took over mid-season as head coach. The result was a more positive environment in the dressing room and a strong late-season push that ended just short of a playoff spot.

“We got to play a more open game. Guys got to play freely and get their love for the game back,” explained the Raiders sniper. “I think having the overall attitude of changing the team culture and becoming a winning organization again was a breath of fresh air. We responded really well to it.”

When the Raiders hit the ice in September, Habscheid will again be at the helm with assistants Dave Manson and Kelly Guard, as well as a new general manager in Curtis Hunt.

With all that figured out now, Gardiner is focused on doing what he needs to do to have himself ready for his fourth season in Prince Albert.

“We are going to be an older team with some good experience under us. I think we can go as far as we want to. How hard we want to work will propel us to where we want to be.”

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