With players starting to arrive in Kitimat, and the 2022-2023 schedule now released, the Kitimat Saax organization is getting excited for the upcoming hockey season.
Derek Prue, executive director of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League’s (GMHL) west division, said there is a lot of buzz as preparation for the season ramps up.
The Saax is an expansion club for the GMHL this season, joining Burns Lake, Mackenzie and Tumbler Ridge along with six teams from Alberta in the west division.
They open the season with a doubleheader against Burns Lake Sept. 30 at home and Oct. 1 in Burns Lake. In total, they will play 42 games wrapping up in Kitimat on March 4, 2023.
The team is still looking for some billet families for the boys, who range in age from 16 to 21, noting it is a highly rewarding enterprise for both families and players.
“The unique bond families form with their players often last a lifetime,” the Saax website states. “It is not uncommon for players to keep in close contact with their former billet family years after playing junior hockey.”
Kitimat residents wishing to take part in the billet program can email head coach Chris Naylor at email@example.com.
Naylor came to Kitimat from Moncton and has a long history of coaching excellence including managing and coaching top-ranked Elite AAA U15 and U18 teams in Ontario, coaching Ontario Senior AAA with the Hamilton Steelhawks, and coaching with the Ontario U17 Program of Excellence.
Most recently, the Saax announced it had acquired Kenyon St. Pierre from Wollaston, Sask. St. Pierre was originally committed to the Slave Lake Ice Dogs for the 2022-23 season, but signed with Kitimat in a trade finalized Aug. 21.
Season tickets are still available for $350, a savings of 30 per cent off the regular price of $500, through the Saax website.
The package includes 21 home games; reserved game seats; guaranteed playoff seats; a free hat, shirt or sweater; 20 per cent off team merchandise all season; priority access to social events (charity, Christmas, golf); and a season kickoff party.