UPDATE 10:00 AM
Due to a stormy Saskatchewan day, the beginning of the NSRBL season is going to have to wait for at least the Kindersley Stallions and Standard Hill Lakers.
The North Saskatchewan River Baseball League is back. Ten teams are in play this year for the NSRBL, and each of them are penciled in for action tonight as the league gets the ball rolling in 2022.
The Kindersley Stallions are travelling north to face the Standard Hill Lakers in a championship round rematch from last year, the Macklin Lakers host the North Battleford Beavers, and then in an all West Central match-up the Wilkie Brewers will be on the road to face the Unity Junior Cardinals. A little further north, Mervin visiting Meadow Lake, and Lloydminster hosting St. Walburg round out the games taking place tonight.
League Co-Commissioner Kelvin Colliar is excited to see things getting underway, and gave a detailed rundown on the league this year. He shared how the Jr. Cardinals are back as the towns only team in the league, and the hope is that they can keep the team together and compete once again next year together even after moving out of the junior level ranks in the province. Players from Unity needing a team once again split off to Wilkie, which Colliar feels should make a strong team once again.
They aren't the only ones amalgamating teams, as that is being done in true fashion out of the Battlefords and Lloydminster.
"The Trappers and the Beavers, they will be stronger because of that," explained Colliar, before changing his attention west, "In Lloydminster the Jays have taken a leave of absence this year, and so they will only have one team which again should strengthen them."
From there he noted tonight's counterparts in Kindersley and Standard Hill as being two of the league's top teams once again, with the Stallions looking to defend their title this year after a few very strong opening seasons in the NSRBL.
Colliar commented on the Macklin Lakers prospects for the year, believing that they will be a force to come as they get older. Finishing off with a strong team in Meadow Lake, and similar to Macklin projects in Mervin, and St. Walburg, Colliar is happy to see the parity that exists.
"It makes our league, what we believe to be if not the strongest league in the province, one of the best in the province, and every year we can attest to that by the success we have in our provincial championships. It's really good to see."
The league closed out last season with multiple champions in provincials, and then a stellar NSRBL playoffs put a bow on all of the talent the area has to offer. Similar success was seen this year in hockey down south out of the Sask Valley Hockey League collecting several banners, so while it may be a large area, Colliar is never surprised with the level of athletes coming from the region no matter the sport.
Colliar said, "I look at the athletes we have, even extend it to the high school situation, you look at the number of basketball and volleyball championships from Battleford, Wilkie, Unity. It's a really strong athletic region of the province."
The Kindersley Stallions will look to buck that trend, and once again take the league title as a team from West Central rather than being closer to the North West.