Huskies, Rustlers to meet for pre-season game at Carlton

David Mahussier/Bison Athletics. USask Guard and Carlton alumnus Gage Grassick moves the ball up court during a game against the Manitoba Bisons.

When the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Lakeland College Rustlers square off at Carlton’s CPAC gymnasium next week, there will be plenty of local talent on display.

Carlton alum Gage Grassick will be playing for the Huskies while St. Mary alum Makylla Vachon will play for Lakeland.

Grassick, who is entering her third season with the Huskies, says the game will have extra meaning because her high school career was cut short due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020.

“I am very excited to go back to Prince Albert and play in front of my family and friends again. When our season got cut short in 2020 my Grade 12 year, because of the pandemic, myself and a lot of graduating teammates didn’t really have the chance to play our true last game as a Crusader. This game is extra special to me to be able to play at home kind of once more.”

It’s not the first time the Huskies have played a pre-season game in Prince Albert. Grassick says she remembers watching the Huskie women’s basketball team play as a girl watching Dalyce Emmerson and Erica Gavel take to the court.

Both Emmerson and Gavel have been inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame.

Grassick says the opportunity to watch the two play had a significant impact on her as a young athlete.

“I still remember when the Huskies played in Prince Albert when I was still in elementary school. (It was) way back when Dalyce Emmerson and Erica Gavel both played on the Huskies team and how impactful as a young athlete it was to see such amazing local talent playing at the highest level.”

“Dalyce and Erica both are incredible athletes and inspirational people that I looked up to growing up in the basketball community, which overall paved the way for lots of young girls like myself. Proving that playing university sports wasn’t just a dream, but really it could be a reality. So being able to kind of take a step back and realize that now we’re playing again in Prince Albert, and I just hope to have the same impact that both Dalyce and Erica had on me.”

For Makylla Vachon, it won’t necessarily be a homecoming as she graduated from St. Mary, but she is excited to play in her hometown once again.

Photo from Lakeland College Athletics Website. St. Mary alumnus Makylla Vachon of the Lakeland College Rustlers.

“I’m just looking forward to having that home crowd, having friends and family being able to watch and being back in the gym where I played a lot of my high school games. I think it’s a very cool experience.”

Playing for Lakeland in her hometown, Vachon says she hopes to show other young athletes in Prince Albert that it is possible to compete at the post-secondary level.

“I think it’ll be awesome to play in front of them and them look up to me and gauge as role models and just see that they could also be playing on college and university teams when they’re older.”

Vachon and the Rustlers are preparing to welcome some of the Canada’s best as they will host the CCAA Women’s Basketball National Championships in March of 2024.

Vachon says she is thankful to have the experience playing against a team like the Huskies early I the season.

“I think it’s nice that we’re playing university teams in our pre-season, so then it’s getting us more ready to be able to compete against ACAC teams going forward and hopefully doing well and exceeding in Nationals later this year.”

The Huskies and Rustlers tip off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21 at the CPAC Gym in Carlton. Tickets are $10 at the door. Children ages five and under get in free.