It's that time of year again where senior hockey teams are readying for their quest for provincial glory this winter. Teams from the west central region are starting their first round matchups within the next couple weeks.
However Kindersley will begin their journey tonight on the road.
The Kindersley Klippers of the SWHL are competing in the Senior A bracket once again this year and have been drawn with the Watrous Winterhawks of the Long Lake Hockey League. Game 1 of this best-of-three series goes tonight in Watrous at the Watrous Centennial Arena.
As the majority of senior hockey teams do for provincials, the Klippers have brought on a few bodies outside of their league roster to boost their chances of making a deep run at it this winter. And that's where Troy Schwab comes into play.
The 34-year-old Kindersley native will be one of the few imports coming in to play for the Kindersley Klippers senior hockey team in provincials. Schwab is best known for his years with the junior Klippers from 2001 to 2005. Those years he racked up 284 points in 227 regular season games and helped lead the Klippers to a league title and a berth to the 2004 RBC Cup.
Outside of junior hockey, Schwab has played in the NCAA, ECHL and the now defunct Central Hockey League. He also landed the role as an assistant coach with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL from 2015 to last season after he retired from the professional hockey ranks.
Now, Troy and his family live in Charlotte, North Carolina where he works in real estate and enjoys the warmer climate of the southern United States. But earlier this winter, he received an offer regarding the possibility of flying up to his home province to come out of retirement and play for his hometown team in the provincials tournament. The opportunity to get back on the ice with his buddies and play one last time for the Klippers in front of family and friends was too good to pass up.
Here, he talks more about the big decision.
The last time Schwab played at a competitive level was back in the 2014-2015 season with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. But ever since the senior Klippers organization reached out to him about a return for provincials, he has spent more time on the ice to prepare his body and his mind.
Troy gives some insight on how he has done just that.
He's not the only name fans will recognize on Kindersley's import players list. Also joining the battle are current SWHLers Kelsey Muench, who captains the Luseland Mallards, and Unity Miners players Kristian St. Onge and Braden Lacoursiere. Former Eatonia Huskies Adam Antkowiak and David Haaf, who are skating for the Maple Creek Hawks of the White Mud Hockey League this season, are playing for Kindersley in provincials too.
Josh Sim, Dan Bauer and Josh Thorimbert complete the list of imports for the senior Klippers in 2019.
In the opposite corner, the Watrous Winterhawks are a difficult challenger for Kindersley to face in the quarterfinals to start off the bracket. The Winterhawks just finished the regular season in first place in the LLHL with 16 wins and 2 losses. They scored and allowed a league-best 129 goals for and 37 goals against, making them one of the early favourites to win the Senior A title.
Game 1 from Watrous will be a live radio broadcast on Classic Hits 1210/1330 tonight with pre-game at 8:15 p.m. Saskatchewan time followed by opening faceoff at 8:30 p.m. Local listeners can tune in on their radios or stream the game live here or by using radio-listening mobile apps such as Radioplayer.
The Klippers and Winterhawks will be in Kindersley on Monday the 11th for an 8:30 p.m. game, and if necessary, the two teams will be in Watrous on Sunday the 17th for a do-or-die third game. The winner of this series will advance to face the second place team in the LLHL this season – the Foam Lake Flyers.