The Prairie Hockey Academy's U16 and U17 prep teams are squaring off in a pair of games this weekend, in regular-season action in the provincial U18 AA league.
U16 coach Myca Abbott is looking forward to the weekend series.
“I think every single game we play until December is going to be pretty competitive,” Abbott said. “It’s going to be fast and going to be physical games. It’s going to be fun playing against our under 17 team. I think they’re well-coached. I think they work hard and they have a lot of skill on that team. I think it’ll be close and I think it’ll be two really good games for both teams.”
The U16s split their weekend series last weekend, with Moose Jaw’s Rowan Calvert tying for the team lead in points with Clark Furman with four. The U17s won their only regular-season game of the year so far, 3-2 in overtime. Their return match was cancelled due to the storm.
U17 coach Dustin Friesen said there won't be much change when it comes to the preparation for the games against the U16s.
“I think, to us, yes we’re coaching different teams and we have two different teams but it’s really about developing players,” said Friesen. “(And) helping them grow and develop on and off the ice. We don’t do this that often, but it’s two games. We’re thankful to have games right now, that’s for sure and it’s just an opportunity to get better.”
In a normal year, the Caronport-based PHA would be playing in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League against teams from across western Canada, but with all out of province travel out of the picture for teams this year, and PHA being the only Saskatchewan-based team in the CSSHL, the two PHA teams might be in the U18AA league for the full year.
For this weekend, the two teams are certainly aware of each other’s presence.
“As an academy, and as a program we do things together, but we also do things individually as a team,” Friesen said. “It’s kind of a team within a team.”
Moose Jaw has a significant contribution to both squads. There are over a dozen players from Moose Jaw on both teams. In addition to Calvert, the U16s have Liam Fitzpatrick and Ty Pratte, while the U17s have 10 players hailing from the Notorious City.
Puck drops Friday at 7 at the Barkman Arena, and again tomorrow there between the same two teams.