WEYBURN -- There was a lot of optimism for a return to a full hockey season, for board members and volunteers of the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings. The annual general meeting for the hockey club was held on August 17.
“Last year was the most challenging year that this hockey team and the world had faced, with COVID-19 shutting down not only hockey, put parts of everyday life,” said Brent Stephanson, in his president’s report.
“We are optimistic right now that we will have a full season this year, and looking forward to going back to the rink.”
Stephanson noted that the hope is to not have any limited audience numbers for the games during the 2021-2022 season.
He noted appreciation to the sponsors, who helped support the team, plus the volunteers, coaching and training staff, and other board members. “I truly believe that the Red Wings are a very important part of this community.”
The new board for the Red Wings includes: president - Jamie Blunden; vice-president - Ray Jarvis; governor - Pete Tatarliov; treasurer - Anne Phair; and secretary - Natascha Jasper. Other board members include: Brent Stephanson, Scott Pohl, Perry Pyett, and Riley Ross.
The upcoming season will also mark an important milestone for the Red Wings, as the organization marks their 60th anniversary.
New coach excited about the opportunity for the season
Coach Cody Mapes spoke about his coaching philosophy during the annual general meeting for the Red Wings. “I am very excited about this opportunity, and the players are very excited about going forward.”
He said the continued support during the last year was very important to the Red Wings, especially as the team and the community had to deal with COVID-19 restrictions and a halt to last season.
“My coaching philosophy will be positive and encouraging,” explained Mapes. “This upcoming season is an opportunity for the team to get back to our winning ways. It will start at the top with the board, the volunteers and the coaches, and building young men in a positive, encouraging way.”
The Red Wings will kick off the new season with a hockey camp to be held September 3, 4 and 5. Mapes detailed that there are a healthy number of 20-year-olds returning to the team, and a big group of 19-year-olds. He added that there are not currently enough 18-year-olds.
“For continued success, we aim to stick with the players and give them an opportunity to grow together. We are going to believe in the players we have, and will do everything we can to ensure they have success.”
He noted that there would be a balance between local players who are on the ice, and a few American-based players, as both groups can bring attention to the games for scouts and fans.
“We want to help our players to move on to their goals, wherever it is, and give them opportunity for scholarships and advancement.”
Another method to ensure continued success for the team will be to “bringing back the old school to work with the new school,” said Mapes. He has spoken with previous coaches and managers, such as Kelly Klippenstine, Ron Rumball and Dwight McMillan, to take the opportunity to learn from them.
“It is no secret that these three guys are part of the greatest junior hockey program in any league in the country,” said Mapes. “This is an opportunity that we can’t turn down, as they will be huge pieces to the team to get back to a winning way.”