Here we are in the last days of August, the weather is still beautiful outside, and already I have spent more time in a hockey rink than I did most of last year.
Having returned to the media mid-way through the winter last season, I missed all of the training camps and starts to the multitude of hockey seasons in Prince Albert, but that is not the case this year.
When the ice was first put back in the Art Hauser Centre earlier this month, the NorSask Hockey Development Camp was held for nine days and my friends Mark Odnokon and Arte Feher put in some long days getting various groups of players ready for the upcoming season.
I went up there a couple of times and in the process generated several stories about local players who are preparing to take off and play in various locations around North America. Arte was especially helpful as he pointed out some of the kids who were training as I was pretty unfamiliar with the local talent having been away from these circles for so long.
Next, the Prince Albert Mintos officially began their new era under head coach Ken Morrison on one of the hottest weekends of the summer. After spending several hours in blistering heat watching provincial soccer at Prime Ministers’ Park, I went inside the rink to take part in the Mintos training camp and Morrison graciously filled me in on how the team was shaping up.
Then the Prince Albert Raiders started getting ready for their camp, which is presently in full swing with the rookies auditioning their talents and the main camp taking over the spotlight this weekend.
Again, I went up to the rink a number of times to talk to general manager Bruno Campese and new assistant coach Tim Leonard. Their enthusiasm for what lies ahead is contagious as normally I would be at the lake during weather like this, but I don’t mind for a second being at the rink because I believe that the Raiders are on the right track to having something pretty special this year and I am very happy to be a part of it.
The same goes for the A&W Bears who last weekend had their largest fall training camp to date. Head coach Jeff Willoughby was thrilled with the talent available and he too believes this is their year.
The Ice Hawks don’t hit the ice for another couple of weeks and all of the developmental teams in the Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association will soon be getting ready for another campaign.
Last week I went through all of the schedules and got them all together in a book for me to carry around. My winter is looking pretty full and I don’t even have every team penned in yet — and that is just hockey!
High school and junior high school sports will start next week with the return of the students from their summer break and there are still so many people to do feature articles on.
There is still a lot of golf left to play and hopefully some fish to catch, but it is getting pretty obvious to me that my new home is going to be a cold arena so I plan on enjoying every moment outside that I can.
But, when the hockey season does hit full stride I plan on being there every step of the way. I think it is going to be a truly amazing winter as every local team should be a contender and hockey fans in this area can expect a lot of success on the ice. I can’t wait!
Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Prince Albert Daily Herald