The Canada Winter Games begin in Red Deer in just over a week, and one event many people are looking forward to is Male U16 Hockey.
The tournament has several historic alumni including Sidney Crosby who played at the 2003 Games for Nova Scotia, or Steven Stamkos who played for Ontario in 2007.
Red Deer Rebels defenceman Carson Sass played for Saskatchewan at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C.
Saskatchewan struggled and were outed from the tournament by the eventual champions from Ontario in the quarterfinals. Despite that Sass looks back at the games with fond memories.
“It was pretty cool. I mean you meet so many different people. One thing that really stood out for me was we had a lanyard, and you would trade pins with other provinces, and I still have it. It’s just this huge thing with a bunch of pins.”
Team Ontario was stacked in 2015 with players like Michael DiPietro, Gabe Vilardi, and Nick Suzuki just to name a few.
Competing at that level against those players was a challenge Sass says helped him prepare for major junior hockey.
“It was definitely a bit tougher, we played against team Ontario and got spanked like 8-0 or something like that. Alberta was good too, we just kind of realized…we (Saskatchewan) were just a little behind some of the other provinces. I think we’re getting better but it was tough hockey.”
All in all, Sass says anyone heading to the 2019 Games in Red Deer as an athlete or a fan should take it all in.
“Enjoy it. I mean it’s a cliché but, just go have fun. I mean there’ll be concerts every night, go have fun at the concerts. It’s a once in a lifetime thing and you’ve got to have fun with it.”
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