Fonstad returns to Prince Albert

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Everett Silvertips forward Cole Fonstad flashes a smile Thursday night as the former Prince Albert Raider was introduced to the crowd prior to Game 6 of the Canada Russia Series at the Art Hauser Centre.

When Everett Silvertips forward Cole Fonstad landed in Saskatoon earlier this week, the Estevan product got a bit of a reminder of how the weather can get in his home province during November.

“It was a little chilly when I got off the plane and it’s not even cold here yet,” Fonstad joked. “The weather is quite a bit different in Everett at the moment.”

The former Prince Albert Raider received a sizeable ovation from the fans at the Art Hauser Centre Thursday night as the 19-year-old made his first appearance in his old home rink for the sixth and final game of the Canada Russia Series.

“It’s a lot of fun to be back and there’s a lot of good memories here,” Fonstad said.

“I saw the boys get their championship rings from last season a couple of weeks ago, so I was pretty excited about having to chance to come here, see the guys again and be presented with that ring.”

Fonstad, who was the fifth overall pick by the Raiders in the 2015 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, had 182 points in 219 regular season games for the club when he was dealt to the Silvertips on Sunday, Oct. 13 in exchange for Reece Vitelli and three draft picks.

“Obviously it was a bit of a change to go to the United States, but I think it helped that I was starting my fourth year in the league so it wasn’t a total shock to me when I found out that I was traded,” Fonstad said.

“It’s a little bit of a different atmosphere there and it took about a week for me to get used to everything. I’m still adjusting to the fact that I have to fill up my gas tank more than once a month in Everett, as it’s a pretty big city, but everything’s going well out there so far.”

After starting the campaign with nine points in nine games, the Montreal Canadiens draft pick has eight points in five contests for his new club.

Following a 4-2 road win over the Seattle Thunderbirds last Saturday night, the Silvertips lead the US Division with a 13-4 record and are tied with the Kamloops Blazers for first place in the Western Conference.

“They play a really structured game and they always battle hard, which is what they’ve been known for since I came into the league,” Fonstad said. “We have an unreal goalie (Dustin Wolf) and everyone plays for each other.

“The bond that we have there reminds me a bit of what it was like in Prince Albert the last two years. I’ve never been part of a team that was so close and had that much love for another like the one we had here last season. I hope to take some of the things that I learned from that experience to help our team in Everett as we look to go on a run.”

After not taking part in Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase event due to an injury, Fonstad is hoping that he can earn an invite to the World Junior Selection Camp next month.

“The chance to play for Canada is why we are all here,” Fonstad said. “It’s important for us to do the little things right, especially in these games with the Russians.

“We all know that the World Junior team isn’t going to be made up of first line players through the lineup. Everyone has a job that they need to fill.”

Photo Courtesy of Steve Hiscock/WHL
Kelowna Rockets forward Nolan Foote beats Russian netminder Amir Miftakhov for the series-winning goal during a shootout at the Art Hauser Centre Thursday.

After a 4-3 shootout triumph for Russia evened up the Canada Russia Series at three wins and nine points each, a sudden death skills competition took place to determine the overall series winner.

Following seven rounds of action, which included a swap of Russian netminders as Amir Miftakhov replaced starter Daniil Isayev after the third shooter for Team WHL, Kelowna Rockets forward Nolan Foote sealed the deal with his second shootout marker to give the Canadian Hockey League the tournament title.

Lethbridge Hurricanes blueliner Calen Addison also scored for Team WHL, while Vegas Golden Knights draft pick Ivan Morozov and Vancouver Canucks first round choice Vitali Podkolzin countered for Russia.

During the actual contest, Arizona Coyotes draft pick Daniil Savunov, Maxim Sorkin and Morozov scored to keep Russia’s chances of winning the tournament alive.

Luka Burzan of the Brandon Wheat Kings had the lone goal for Team WHL in the shootout.

Ilya Krugalov, Zakhar Shablovskii and Lev Komisarov all found the back of the net for Russia during regulation, while Isayev made 27 saves.

Foote led the way for Team WHL with a pair of goals and Spokane Chiefs blueliner Ty Smith dished out a pair of helpers.

Ryan Chyzowski of the Medicine Hat Tigers also scored in the contest, which featured a 29-save showing from Joel Hofer of the Portland Winterhawks.