Warriors-Snowbirds-Jan29Warriors general manager Alan Millar (left), Jack Rodewald, Jesse Forsberg and Torrin White pose after their flight with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds on Tuesday.

There’s plenty more in common between the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds than the city that they share.

The two organizations have been building a relationship over the past three years as they look to learn about their commonalities and how they can teach each other about coming together as a team.

For a hockey team like the Warriors, it takes 20 players, the coaching staff, and support staff working together to pull off a win.  The same goes for the Snowbirds, who have a team of over 100 that make sure every flight goes off just as planned.

“We started this relationship between the two teams just for basically an opportunity for us to get together, see how we do things and ideally improve upon how we do things and learn from each other,” said Captain Brett Parker, pilot of Snowbird 2, who was one the spearheads of the idea to bring the Warriors and Snowbirds together.

“The last few years, the relationship has always been about just how similar we are in terms of the trust and the teamwork,” said Alan Millar, Warriors general manager.  “That’s part of the uniqueness of our community and the relationship that we have with the good people here, the Snowbirds and the Base.”

The Warriors spent the day at 15 Wing Moose Jaw on Tuesday to take in what the Snowbirds go through on a day-to-day basis and learn from the experience in a hope of becoming a better team.

“Just watching them and how close they are as a group and how well (they communicate),” said Warriors winger Jack Rodewald.  “Nobody strays away from the team and if you make a mistake up there, it’s definitely a life or death situation, so you can take a lot of those things away from it.”

“It correlates so much to how important teammates are, the trust of each other,” said Millar.  “For us it’s on the ice and for them it’s in the air.”

Part of the day also includes members of the Warriors getting to experience a flight with the Snowbirds.  This year Millar, along with veterans Torrin White, Jesse Forsberg and Rodewald got the opportunity to fly with the team.  

Before their flight, the team got to see what the pilots go through before hitting the sky — briefings and pre-flight checks — similar to what the Warriors would do before hitting the ice for a game.

“Regardless of whether you’re preparing to fly a show or play in a hockey game, there’s mental preparation, there’s physical preparation, there’s going through the whole game plan and talking about what is going to occur with each flight that you’re going to go up on,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher England, commanding officer of the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron.

“Our two teams share quite a lot of principles together. We are a group of skilled aviators and maintainers. We work as a team and we are professional, much like the Warriors,” added England. “They are younger and do a different job out there, but they are very skilled and work as a team and they conduct themselves professionally. I think there are quite a few commonalities between the two.”

Those commonalities are what has drawn the two groups together and continues to foster their growing relationship.

“Just the way that they do things here, there’s a lot of respect for each and everyone of them,” said Forsberg, a 20-year-old defenceman with the Warriors.  “Just the way they go about everything with professionalism and the teamwork that they show all the time.”

The other part of the day was given the Warriors an experience of a lifetime and one they all thoroughly enjoyed once getting back on the ground.

“It was unbelievable, it’s something else,” said Rodewald.  “I never thought I’d do anything like that and it was amazing, just seeing how controlled the pilots are and being able to experience that.”

“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” added Torrin White.  “We’re lucky to have a such a good relationship with the Snowbirds and they gave us this amazing afternoon.”

Millar’s father worked in the airline industry, so he grew up around airports and planes, which made this experience extra special.

“Just unbelievable, you really can’t explain the feeling,” he said.  “We were upside down, we were straight up, we were straight down from start to finish.  It was unique and special.”

“The ultimate goal is to give them a good experience so that they can then talk about it and share that commonality,” added England, who compared the physical extrusion of a flight to a game for the players.

The next step is for the Warriors to welcome the Snowbirds into their world and have them as special guests for a game.  That will come a later date in the season as details are still being finalized.  The plan is the Warriors to honour the air demonstration team with special jersey for the second straight year.

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