Sawchuk commits to Mount Royal

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Riley Sawchuk moves into the offensive zone for the Edmonton Oil Kings during a game against the Prince Albert Raiders in January.

Riley Sawchuk will be staying in Alberta for the next step in his hockey career.

The 21-year-old forward from Prince Albert officially committed to the Mount Royal Cougars on Friday as the Canada West program announced their recruiting class for the upcoming season.

“I am excited to meet a whole new group of guys, make new friends and experience a new city (Calgary),” Sawchuk said in a press release.

 “I am looking to gain knowledge in my all-around life, from school to life skills. It (U Sports) is elite hockey, so I am looking to further my game and grow to be a better player so my career moves on in the future.”

Sawchuk, who will be enrolling in Mount Royal’s business program, is coming off a career season with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

After being acquired from the Tri-City Americans in the off-season, Sawchuk led the team in scoring with 76 points in 64 games as the Oil Kings captured their second straight Central Division title before the season ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cougars finished in fourth place in the Canada West standings last year with an 18-8-4 record, but lost in the quarter-final round to the UBC Thunderbirds.

Sawchuk was joined in the Cougars’ recruiting class by blueliners Rylan Yaremko (Northern Michigan Wildcats) and Dominic Schmiemann (Brandon Wheat Kings), along with fellow forwards Lane Gilliss (Portland Winterhawks) and Kyle Olson (Calgary Hitmen).

Around the WHL

While the Western Hockey League is still gunning for the 2020-21 season to get underway on Oct. 2, the CN Centre in Prince George, B.C. is slated to remain closed until next year as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the Prince George Cougars’ vice president of business Andy Beesley says that the venue will be available for the team to use when the next campaign gets underway.

“I have the full assurance of the Mayor (Lyn Hall) and arena management that once the WHL has certainty and confirmation about our season schedule dates, the CN Centre will be open and ready to welcome everyone,” Beesley said in a statement that was posted on the club’s website.

“The league has targeted Oct. 2nd for our opening weekend, but we all understand that this is a fluid situation. The league continues to develop different schedules and scenarios, including later start dates, shortened training camps, and changes to how divisional play may occur based on the Canada/USA border situation.”