It has been a year to remember for the Saskatoon Blades. Not only has it been a shortened season playing in the WHL‘s Regina hub due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has also been one of the most successful for the team, thus far.
The Blades set a franchise record for the best start in team history (6-0-1) and after a little dip, are back on top of the East Division standings.
While the team has been successful on the ice, Blades head coach Mitch Love calls life in the hub “a long road trip.”
“You know, typically each Western Hockey League season you get about two weeks when you’re on a road trip, an extended road trip, and this is a two-month thing,” Love said.
Blades forward Caiden Daley says the team tries to keep busy doing things on off days.
“Like board games and cards and stuff like that,” Daley said.
“We’re just all grateful to be here and really happy that we get the opportunity to do this unique experience together.”
There are only three places those inside the hub are allowed to be: the arena, the bus or the residence on the U of R campus.
At times, some of those inside the hub find themselves at their window just watching the outside world.
“We can’t just go outside as a team and go for a walk… on a nice day,” said Blades associate coach Ryan Marsh.
“And then you mix in the COVID testing every three days… that is what makes it really unique. But I think we are all just embracing the time to be here and be playing.”
And for the 20-year-olds, like Blades captain Chase Wouters, the shortened season will be their last in the WHL.
He says the concentrated experience of being around everyone, every day, all day, has been a good one.
“I think it has been a great experience for myself,” Wouters said.
“My last year has been lots of fun to be around the guys constantly throughout my time; I’m always a guy that liked being on road trips. There is nothing I would change about it.
“We’re just grateful as players to have this opportunity here.”
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