The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Gold Wings had the first game experience of the 2020-21 season on Oct. 17, when they hosted the Regina Rebels in an exhibition game at Crescent Point Place. The Gold Wings lost 5-1 to the Rebels. As a home-and-home exhibition series, the Gold Wings will head to Regina on Saturday, October 24 for game two.
Heading into the exhibition game, the Gold Wings coaches were concentrating on athlete building, which included off-ice conditioning, on-ice tactical skill building, and getting the players mentally ready for game play.
“We are really stressing the responsibilities of leadership on and off the ice, so we can change our culture, and change our environment,” said Kyle McDonald, director of performance and general manger of the Gold Wings.
For many hockey teams across the province, it is a late start to the season, but all teams are following the Public Health guidelines that are in place by Saskatchewan Hockey Association and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
One of the opportunities for the Gold Wings was that the players were able to attend virtual meetings, which featured guest speakers who have shared their stories and experiences. These virtual meetings really helped the mental conditioning of the players, especially since there were so many uncertainties to how the season would look for the actual playing of hockey.
Future plans for the Gold Wings are to have a 28-game schedule starting Nov. 15. This will start regionally and move to provincial with playoffs in April. The 28-game schedule will consist of a home-and-home series each weekend. As of right now, regionals and the Esso Cup are on the schedule.
The league will start out the season with two divisions. The Gold Wings are in the South Division, along with the Regina Rebels, the Swift Current Wildcats and the Notre Dame Hounds. The North Division will include the Battlefords Sharks, the Saskatoon Stars and the Prince Albert Northern Bears.
The Gold Wings will only play within their league for the first couple of months, and then tentatively after Jan. 18, crossover games will be introduced against the opposite divisions. “We will get really accustomed to playing Regina, Swift Current and Notre Dame. We will get to know them all,” said McDonald.
There was a little uncertainty about what the players would bring to the ice, but McDonald felt that there were a lot of speed on both their forward and defense line. “A lot of these players are going to be established, so we are not going to be a three-win team like we were last year. We also have a lot of strong players as forwards, defense and our goaltenders. I really like our mentality this year.”