South Peace News
Junior A hockey appears to be in High Prairie for the long run.
The High Prairie Red Wings are getting established in the first year of the West Division in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League since the team arrived in early November.
“We expect the Red Wings will remain in High Prairie for the long term,” West Division expansion director Derek Prue says.
The three teams in the division will get more competition, he says.
“We will expand the division to six teams for next season,” Prue says.
He and the league continue to negotiate with three communities to locate teams in the division that covers Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
“That’s probably where we will cap our expansion for the division at this time,” Prue says.
He did not mention any names to respect confidentiality.
The Slave Lake Icedogs and the Northern Alberta Tomahawks based in Enoch are the other two teams in the division.
High Prairie has become a strong base for the West Division, he says.
“We are pleased with the team’s accomplishments and welcome to the community,” Prue says.
“It’s pretty good for a team that was parachuted into High Prairie.”
Community support is growing for the team that includes eight local players on the roster of 23. It has strengthened the team and boosted the fan base, he says.
“We knew when we went into High Prairie, we would have a lot of good local players to draw from,” Prue says.
The Red Wings have posted a winning record since they arrived in northern Alberta from Cold Lake, where they were based for the first 10 games of the season.
“In the last 10 games, we have the best record in the division,” head coach Ryder Prue says.
“We want to continue that, win the division and in the playoffs.
“We practise up to two hours every day and we’re always ready to play hard.”
The players are comfortable in their new home.
“All the players love it here in High Prairie,” Prue says.
“It’s a hockey town.
“We have people talk about the Red Wings in the community, which is a good sign.”
High Prairie is second in the division with 23 points as of Jan. 2, 2020.
That comes with a record of 10 wins, 10 losses and three overtime losses.
The Red Wings trail the Slave Lake Icedogs, who have 30 points.
High Prairie is just one point ahead of the Northern Alberta Tomahawks based in Enoch Cree Nation, on the western outskirts of Edmonton.
After a losing record, the Red Wings are a very solid 8-4-1 since making High Prairie their home.
The regular season ends March 8.
4 named to All-Star Team
Four players from the High Prairie Red Wings will play in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League all-star game on Jan. 11 in Ontario.
Forward and scoring leader Larry Yellowknee, goaltender Jeremiah Clarke, forward Mikal Chalifoux and defenceman Tyson Mitchell are four of 10 players who will represent the West Division in the game in South River.
The players were announced by West Division expansion director Derek Prue.
Yellowknee is excited to play and truly represent the team as a local player from Gift Lake.
“I look forward to play in front of scouts,” Yellowknee says.
“It should be a fun weekend and a good experience.”
He says he has become a mentor to players in minor hockey.
“Being from the High Prairie area, a loft local kids look up to me,” Yellowknee says.
Yellowknee leads the Red Wings in scoring.
“He’s an obvious choice for an all-star,” Red Wing head coach Ryder Prue says.
The coach says the four players are all deserving to play in the game, adding the game will be a milestone for Clarke as several scouts will be watching.
West Division Standings
Team GP W L OL Pts GF GA
Slave Lake 22 14 6 2 30 115 82
High Prairie 23 10 10 3 23 93 124
N. Alberta 23 10 12 1 21 93 95
Fri., Jan. 10 – HP at Slave Lake – 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 11 – Northern Alberta (Enoch) at HP – 8 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 17 – HP at Slave Lake – 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 19 – Northern Alberta (Enoch) at HP – 4:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 25 – HP at Northern Alberta (Enoch) – 8 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 26 – Slave Lake at HP – 4:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 31 – Northern Alberta (Enoch) at HP – 8:30 p.m.