A fond farewell to Prince Albert and Saskatchewan

Photo Courtesy of Sue Punkari (Lucas's Mother) Contrary to popular belief, former Daily Herald sports reporter Lucas Punkari is not planning to roam the seven seas in his new career

At some point in early 2019, I started to jokingly call myself The Sports Hobo, referencing the fact that I’ve worked in Fort Frances, Ont., Airdrie, Alta., Moose Jaw, North Battleford and Prince Albert.

Well, it’s time for me to live up to that moniker and embark on my next journey.

After a little over three years in the Gateway to the North, I officially wrapped up my run as the Prince Albert Daily Herald’s sports reporter on Tuesday.

As I write this, I’ll currently sitting in media row at Westoba Place for the opening contest of the 2021-22 Western Hockey League season, as I’ll be starting a job in the Brandon Sun sports department in the coming days.

While I am looking forward to joining Perry Bergson and Thomas Friesen in covering the sporting scene in Brandon and the surrounding area, I am going to miss Prince Albert as my team here has been a blast.

From covering the Prince Albert Raiders run to the WHL title, seeing Tyler Tardi win his third straight Canadian Junior Curling Championship, witnessing the packed grandstands to the Junior Softball Worlds and being in attendance for the Beardy’s Blackhawks final game, I’ve been pretty darn fortunate to have had a front row seat to some major events in this area.

I’ve also been lucky to meet some awesome athletes. From the likes of Braden Schneider and Brooke Hobson on the hockey side of things, to curler Kara Thevenot and stock car racer Shantel Kalika among others, there are a ton of great people across the sporting landscape in Prince Albert.

Another highlight during my time here has been the amazing golf scene. From the tournaments at Waskeisu and Cooke, the exploits of golfers on the provincial and national scene, and the recent addition of the PGA Tour Canada to Elk Ridge Resort, it’s been awesome to see just how big the sport is in this area.

As I begin my new journey, I’d like to thank Daily Herald publisher Donna Pfeil and the two editors during my time here, Peter Lozinski and Jason Kerr, for giving me the freedom to do what I wanted to do in the sports department, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, they may have had second thoughts on that when my good friend Michael Oleksyn joined the paper, which turned the newsroom into a daily Let’s Remember Some Guys session, much to the chagrin of other co-workers Jayda Taylor, Kelly Skjerven and Susan McNeil.

A huge thanks also goes to everyone not just in Prince Albert, but across Saskatchewan, as my move to Brandon wraps up a nearly seven-year stint in the province.

In a lot of ways, the people of this province remind me so much of the people back home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont and I’d recommend Saskatchewan to anyone looking for a trip or a place to work.

Speaking of work, you may be asking who the new sports reporter is going to be at the Daily Herald.

So who’s the new sports reporter going to be at the Daily Herald?

You guessed it…Frank Stallone.

In actuality, Kyle Kosowan will be taking over the sports beat in a couple of weeks, with Jason and Michael also stepping in for the time being.

I look forward to reading along with you and seeing what happens in the Prince Albert sports scene in the years to come, in addition to maybe making a contribution or two along the way if time allows.

God willing, I might be back in town this spring for the Esso Cup to see the Prince Albert Northern Bears finally welcome the best female Under-18 teams to Prince Albert.

Plus, there’s a chance you can see me embarrass myself in the Men’s Northern or Lobstick tournaments somewhere down the line.

Thank you for everything Prince Albert. I’ll see you again soon.