Junior B club to host Outback Thunder tonight; rematch Saturday in Carrot River
After a slightly longer wait due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prince Albert Titans will finally get their 2020-21 campaign underway on Friday night.
The Prairie Junior Hockey League side will host the Carrot River Outback Thunder in a 7:30 p.m. affair at the Kinsmen Arena, with a rematch set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Carrot River.
“The guys are anxious to get going,” Titans Head Coach and Director Of Hockey Operations Kim Dryka said. “We got a couple of pre-season games, which helped a lot, and now we’re ready to get started.
“It’s better for us to have those exhibition games instead of just having practices before the regular season begins, as the intensity is quite a bit different when you have another team out there to play against. We did have a couple of injuries in our two pre-season games, but that can happen at any time in hockey and we’re hoping to have those guys back before too long here.”
This weekend’s curtain-raisers will mark the third and fourth meetings between the two sides in the last three weeks, as they played pre-season matchups last month.
The Thunder scored four times in the third period for a 6-5 win in Carrot River on Oct. 24, with a rematch last Saturday night ending in a 5-5 tie in Prince Albert.
“We had two-goal leads in both games but we let them slip away, so finishing strong is obviously something that we’ve been working on here this week,” Dryka said.
“Other than that, there’s a lot of things that we liked from both games and I think there’s some good upside with this lineup. It’s going to be an interesting season with a lot of back-to-back to games and a shorter schedule, so it will be exciting to see who comes out on top.”
Second-year forward Ben Zultok led the way for the Titans in their pre-season contests as he recorded a hat trick in the first meeting with the Outback Thunder and joined teammates Kale Amundrud, Dillan Saworski and Tanner Hendriks in recording a two-point night in their rematch on Halloween.
“Ben’s a little spark plug out there and he’s going to give you everything he has on a regular basis,” Dryka said.
This weekend will also see a major addition to the Outback Thunder’s lineup as Saskatoon Blades forward Jayden Wiens has been loaned to his hometown team.
The 17-year-old had 13 points in 63 games for the Blades last year after making the jump to the Western Hockey League from the Tisdale Trojans.
As was the case during the pre-season, fan capacity for the Titans home games will be limited to 84 fans as the team follows the protocols that have been put in place by the Saskatchewan Hockey Association.
“It’s still a first-come, first-served basis in terms of tickets and we can’t fit the maximum amount of 150 people in there as we have to follow the social distancing rules,” Dryka said.
“We had a good crowd on Halloween and I think it will work out. We appreciate all the support that we get.”