Southeast Saskatchewan has produced over 30 hockey players from within an 80 km radius of Carlyle, from the WHL to CIS to the NHL. There have been many youth that have grown up in pursuit of a dream to play hockey at an elite level, all while inspiring younger generations to pursue their dreams. For many stepping out onto the ice is a passion and local AA Atom team (otherwise known as a Tier 1 team), the Moose Mountain Wild, was formed to help support advanced development of players.
Playing in the South East Minor Hockey League, the Wild took on teams from Yorkton, Swift Current, Weyburn, Moosomin, and Estevan.
“Our intention was to create a high calibre team,” coach Wade Robertson explained. “I’ve noticed individual improvements throughout the year in every kid on the team. We haven’t won too many games throughout the year, but I truly believe any team can win this league.”
“There’s a difference of opinion over AA Atom teams, but in my opinion, the higher level of any sport pushes that individual to excel quickly, which is why we went about this team. It’s also been great for the community here as we’ve had parents and teams driving from other communities that have taken advantage of the amenities in town.”
“Cities tier their hockey from six-years-old and on, so this is tiering a team for a rural community; it’s a way to create the same opportunities as city kids have.”
There was a lot of work put in bringing back the Wild program to the area.
“It’s been seven years since we’ve had the Wild program in town,” Robertson explained. “It was a lot of work to get it going again. I was even suspended for one month by the SHA over a misunderstanding of the rules. There wasn’t much for guidance; the Peewee AA rules are different than for Atom… it was just a misunderstanding by everybody involved. It was a big learning curve.”
“But, I spoke with every organization and made sure that if we took three players from here or there that the house team would keep going; so, we made sure everywhere we took kids from had an atom house league still going.”
“I learned a lot and there was a lot of work put into the team, but we turned a bad experience into a good one and I’ve had good dealings with the SHA.”
During his one month suspension, Robertson says he got to stand back and watch for the first few games, analyzing for when he was able to return to coaching the team. During this time the assistant coaches stepped in: Jody Jorgensen, Jamie Barnett, and Tyler Fehrenbach.
Robertson added, “The parents were a huge asset this year; the support of the parents and businesses was great.”
The year has been one of development for those on it: Chase Borreson (Redvers), Ty Fehrenbach (Carlyle), Jordan Andres (Corning/Kipling), Dawson Galbraith (Carlyle), Mason Barta (Carlyle), Ethan Lees (Arcola), Mathias Fornwald (Lampman), Blaise Jorgensen (Redvers), Chase Robertson (Carlyle), Axton Martin (Redvers), Porter Barnett (Carlyle), Jaden Fischer (Carlyle), Ben McCarthy (Corning/Kipling), Kegan Ksenych (Corning/Kipling), and Turner Knockaert (Manor).
“For me, I was focused on individual development, not the wins and losses; which, I’ve had numerous parents say that they’ve noticed a visible improvement in their kid’s intensity and aggressiveness because of the high calibre hockey.”
In addition to the individual improvements, the team has improved over the year as well. Heading into playoffs, in best of three series, the Wild recently beat Moosomin in the first round and will now face Yorkton in the next round.
“A huge thanks to everyone involved this year and thank you to the assistance from Randall Smith and Roger Fafard, who ran this program in the past,” Robertson stated.
“Come cheer on the Wild, Sunday [March 12], at 5:30 p.m. for Game Two versus Yorkton!”