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Storzuk returns to the FAA with Flin Flon

Riley Storzuk has played hockey at the Gallagher Centre many times before but on this occasion, it was a much different set of circumstances.
Flin Flon left winger Riley Storzuk returned to Yorkton over the weekend when the Terriers hosted the Bombers for a pair of games last weekend. Storzuk was last year's captain of the Yorkton Harvest.

Riley Storzuk has played hockey at the Gallagher Centre many times before but on this occasion, it was a much different set of circumstances.

For one, he was playing as part of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and second, he was playing as a member of the visiting team.

Having represented the Yorkton AAA Midget Harvest this time last season, he accepted the invitation to become a part of the SJHL's Flin Flon Bombers.

Friday night, January 14 was his return to the city.

It must have felt strange for the 18-year-old who made Farrell Agencies Arena his home ice for more than two years.

"A little bit," he said when asked if it felt a little weird returning to the town that helped shape him.

Storzuk and the Bombers were in town for back-to-back weekends matches against the Yorkton Terriers.

"We know that this is going to be a real work-weekend."

Storzuk has played in most of his team's games so far this season and said he likes the change in pace from the Saskatchewan Midget AAA league.

His Bombers recently came off their first win of the new year last week when they trounced the Humboldt Broncos, 8-3.

"That boosted everyone's confidence," he said outside the visitors' room at the Farrell Agencies Arena, following a 4-0 loss to the Terriers.

Storzuk isn't worried about the loss and told the paper, they will be ready to go in the two teams' rematch the following night.

"Most definitely."

He said he knew long before the season started that he'd be skating with the maroon jersey on his back.

"Yeah," he said. "The guys up here are bigger, faster and stronger."

He's playing under a different system and alongside a bunch of players, whom most of them aren't even from Saskatchewan.

"It's more thought-out here, less scramblier," he said of the coaching style in Flin Flon.

The Bombers are currently in second last place in the Bauer Conference, but according to the former Harvest captain, nobody is concerned about that right now.

"With coach (Mike) Reagan, it's more thought-out, there's more planning and it's tighter."

That works just fine for number 16.

"I do whatever the coach wants. We want to go as far as we can."

I still play my game every night."

Following Friday night's 4-0 loss, Flin Flon is two games below the .500 mark, so Storzuk and his new team opt to take things easier rather then plan for the long-term future, he told the paper at his team's hotel.

"It's kind of a period by period thing right now," he suggested, adding that "that's the only way we're going to accomplish anything."

Part of the transition to the Junior league, Storzuk finds himself as one of only nine players on the Flin Flon roster who are originally from Saskatchewan. More than half of the players are from outside. They come from as far west as British Columbia and stretch out as far as Ontario and Michigan.

"It's neat to see guys come (here) even from out of the country," observes Storzuk, and that also includes a pair of American-born goaltenders who've made the Bombers, hailing from California and Colorado.

"At the start of the year you kind of think about stuff like that," Storzuk points out, who added that both goaltenders, PJ Musico and Randy Graham are "both solid goalies."

Storzuk told the paper that the best thing about life in Flin Flon is that the Bombers seem to be the centrepiece of the city, whose population is close to 6,000. He said the team is regularly featured in the print media,

"The whole town support...the amount of support we get...," he said like he couldn't finish the sentence because the fan base is clearly there.

The biggest difference between the two leagues (SMAAHL and the SJHL) is actually the travel.

The Midget league would take the Harvest up into Prince Albert and the Battlefords, but Storzuk said he isn't quite used to having to play 3-4 games within a weeks' time...a far cry from the schedule in Midget.

"It can be challenging at times," said Storzuk, who seems quite happy with such an amazing change in pace.

He said the Bombers have one of the best facilities in the entire SJHL, which he said includes a gym."It brings the team closer together," he said, adding that when the guys aren't on the ice together, they're somewhere else together. "It's a different experience."We have a gym in our dressing room and it's mandatory three times per week," he said. He added that even the visitors' room in Flin Flon isn't bad.Storzuk through his rookie season has totalled 10 points, including four goals. He said his goal is to work his way into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at some point at either the Division I level or III. He said his experience in Yorkton AAA should help him do that.

"Being on the ice can't take a night off-or a shift off."