WEYBURN - Hockey players with the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings are looking forward to their home opener of the season, which will be against the Melville Millionaires on Friday, September 24.
Weyburn forward Braden Birnie wants to make this season a memorable one for all the 20-year-olds on the team, like himself.
“It is the last kick at the can for us, so I hope it is a season we will never forget. Already, we are aiming for a big run, and are excited for the season. Seeing the rink full again would be awesome, and seeing the support that we can rally from the community. Hopefully they can come out to watch us win a lot of games.”
Birnie said that he would like to see “lots of team success, and a good year offensively.”
Forward Dante Ballarin, from Vancouver, is another 20-year-old on the team. “I am looking forward to playing under Cody (Mapes) as our coach this year. We have endured a lot of losing in the last two years, so we are going to change the tides this year and everyone is excited for that. I am looking forward to playing hockey this year, and bringing a winning culture back to Weyburn this year.”
“I would like this group to make the playoffs. The goal is to win (this year), so we are going to do what it takes,” added Ballarin.
For 19-year-old defenseman Nick Dobson, from Cochrane, Alta, he is excited to get back on the ice. “I am just really excited for the new beginnings this year, and for us to get a new group of guys. We really feel that we are jelling together as a group, so it is exciting to return here. I am just excited to win games, making a bit of a press on the rookies and help mold some young minds.”
His goal for the season is for the Red Wings “to beat Estevan in the RBC Cup finals, on their home ice, to win the championship title.”
This will be the first year with the Red Wings for 17-year-old player Dazza Mitchell, a goaltender from Regina.
“I played with Cody (Mapes) before and I really like his coaching style, and who he is. I really like the City of Weyburn, and think it is a nice place. I am looking forward to getting my foothold in the league here. I am looking forward to playing in the big league. This is a big step for me, coming from Triple A, so playing under all these fans and with these older guys will be a challenge, but I am looking forward to it.”
The Red Wings lost 4-3 in a close overtime game to the Estevan Bruins on Sunday, in their last pre-season action. Nick Dobson opened scoring for Weyburn in the first period, with an assist from Dace Prymak. Jakob Kalin scored a goal in the first three minutes of the second period, during a powerplay with assists from Drew Kuzma and Shayde Peterson. The Bruins scored their first goal of the game during a powerplay late in the second period.
In the third period, Jacob Jakusz scored the third goal for Weyburn, with an assist from Prymak. The Bruins fought back and scored two goals to tie up the game, then they scored an early overtime goal to secure the win.
Residents are reminded that mandatory masking is in effect to attend all Red Wings home games, as per the province-wide announcement made on September 17. Effective October 1, a provincial requirement for proof of vaccination will be implemented for Crescent Point Place, as it is an indoor facility that hosts sporting events.