News and Announcements

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Published: Friday, 23 April 2021 16:31
Written by David Zammit

The Swift Current Innovation Credit Union Wildcats have their roster for next season just about set already.

The U18 AAA club will be returning 14 players next season and they’ve reached agreements with another five players after recent tryouts.

Wildcats Head Coach Terry Pavely said the organization normally saves a few roster spots for their August camp and lets players battle it out for spots but this year is different.

“We just felt the kids we wanted were here,” he said. “Some of them were in our backyard and some came down and skated with us, we just got to the point where we’ve decided on 19 kids so far and we’ve got on spot open.”

Currently, the Wildcats have 11 forwards and six defencemen committed for the 2021-22 season, leaving the 20th roster spot for a 12th forward or seventh defenceman to join the group.

“If we find the right player, we might add one, if not we’re happy to go with 19,” he said.

Three of the five additions to the squad are forwards in Cydny Price (played for Wildcats U18 AA last year), Olivia Kirwan (played for Wildcats U18 AA last year), and Addison Eurich (played for Northwest Sharks U18 AA last year).

A third member from the Wildcats U18 AA squad last year will move up in Amiyah Jones, a defenceman from Dinsmore.

And one of the final holes to fill for the club was a second goalie in which Karlee Lehner will fill. She played for U18 AA Prince Albert Foxes’ this past year.

Re-Capping the Wildcats Unique Season

Posted by SWIFT CURRENT WILDCATS at Apr 21, 2021 6:38AM PDT
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Published: Tuesday, 20 April 2021 13:37 Written by David Zammit

It wasn’t the end to the season the Swift Current Innovation Credit Union Wildcats were hoping for.

The Swift Current team was only able to play seven games in total, five regular-season contests and two pre-season games, before the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic near the end of November.

Wildcats Head Coach Terry Pavely said it was a very different year for all sports teams and his team was no exception to that, however, he was pleased with the progress his players made in practices since league play was suspended.

“I really think one thing that was evident and one thing we all learned as coaches, is the extra skill development and really being creative in coming up with a little bit more skill-oriented practices and you had to do that in groups of eight,” he said. “I think for our girls it was very beneficial. Now four or five months of it was a little bit too long but we saw huge improvements in our girls.”

The skill development will play a huge factor for U18 AAA club next season as they’ll return 14 players.

“Our shooting, our skills with the puck, puck handling, tight turns, our passing, we really noticed a huge difference in our passing,” he said. “So those basic skills, that all players need, I think we saw a huge gap of improvement.”

Pavely applauded the entire team for participating in multiple practices weekly with a focus just on skill development, while the season’s fate kept slipping away.

“I think that’s another reason we saw high improvement is our players really bought into what we were doing,” he said. “Even though I know it might have gotten old for them, they never let us know that and they just kept working hard.”

Pavely believes the team will now forge on with a bit more skill development in the future, however, almost the entire year on the tactical side of the game has been lost so he’ll have to catch his squad up on that in the fall.

One of the overlooked parts in not being able to complete the season is seeing how Swift Current would have stacked up come playoff time.

“This season we thought we were going to be one of the top teams, us, Regina, and Notre Dame, we thought were maybe the top three, you think you have an opportunity to win again,” Pavely said.

The team had four graduating players this season, captain Baylee Kirwan, forward Calli Arnold, assistant captain Kamryn Johnson, and goalie Amaya Giraudier.

“In our five league games and two exhibition games they were all really good and that’s what you need,” he said. “Arnold came in and had seven points in five league games… Baylee Kirwan was up there in points… Johnson as a dman was really having a breakout season offensively already had four points in five games. And Amaya in net, you knew what you were getting, every time she’s in the net we had an opportunity to win.”

The Wildcats have already filled the majority of their roster spots for next season and we’ll have an in-depth story on that later in the week.

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Published: Friday, 26 March 2021 06:00
Written by David Zammit

Another member of the Swift Current Innovation Credit Union Wildcats leadership group has committed to a U Sports school.

Back on March 12, the AAA female club made the announcement on Twitter that forward Ava Metzger will be headed to Calgary’s Mount Royal University to play for the Cougars in the 2022-23 season.

“I actually toured it in grade nine,” Metzger said by phone Wednesday night. “It was a nice campus, a good rink, they also have a very good coach and they’ve built up a winning culture so all of that drew me in.”

The commitment is an early one, as the Moosomin product still has a year remaining of eligibility at the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League level.

“Just with the uncertainty due to COVID and all of that and not knowing if we’ll be able to play games,” she said. “And it was a good opportunity so I didn’t want to pass it up.”

Metzger will return to the Wildcats for the 2021-22 season, her second with the club and fourth campaign in the league. She previously spent time with the Saskatoon Stars (2019-20) and the Melville Prairie Fire (2018-19).

“I definitely have a big spot to fill next year, I will be one of the oldest on the team,” she said. “I’m just looking to continue to put up some points and just compete day in and day out and do what I can to help the team.”

In five games with Swift Current this past year, she netted a pair of goals and added a trio of assists.

While the current grade 11 student still has one more year of high school studies, she’s looking at courses in the medical field with potential aspirations of becoming a chiropractor, doctor or nurse.

She might not be the lone Wildcat on the Cougars either as currently Kate Scidmore is on the team’s roster and she played in Swift Current from 2013 to 2016.

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Glenn MacDonald (gmacdonald@herald.ca)
The Chronicle Herald
March 21, 2021

For an 18-year-old rookie blue-liner who wasn’t even supposed to be at Saint Mary’s this season, Maddy McCleary has made an impression with her Huskies teammates and her head coach.

“I’m not sure if it’s right to say this but she’s the stereotypical, low-maintenance, hard-working Prairie girl,” SMU bench boss Chris Larade said. “We’re so lucky to have her and from what I’ve seen she’s just as impressive off the ice and in the classroom. I’m blown away by her maturity.”

The captain of her under-18 AAA team in Swift Current, Sask., last season, McCleary had committed to the University of Lethbridge and was expected to join the Pronghorns in the fall for her freshman year.

But in April, she was notified that the school was eliminating several sports from its budget, including women’s hockey.

“When I found out Lethbridge got cancelled, it was pretty scary,” McCleary recalled. “I thought that was going to be the end of my hockey career.”

But life happens fast.

Larade, who had recruited McCleary earlier that season, reached out to her and, by May, she committed to Saint Mary’s.
What did she know about SMU?

“Nothing,” she answered.

“I didn’t know Saint Mary’s existed before Chris reached out. It was definitely an eye-opener to come out here but I’m really glad I did.

“It was a real blessing that I got to play here. It felt like home right away and everyone made it inviting.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the transition wasn’t the easiest for someone who had never been to the east coast.

She didn’t even get a chance to tour the south-end Halifax campus when she arrived. Her first two weeks were spent in her apartment.

“When I arrived here, I went straight from the airport to my room and spent two weeks in quarantine,” McCleary explained.

“It was tough, it was really tough. When I first got to my room during Day 1 of quarantine, I was really questioning my decision. As the days went by, I was quick to learn there was a real family-like scenario. The girls were really supportive. They were always in contact but it definitely was a struggle for the first two weeks.

“When your family is 4,000 miles away and being a rookie you really have to rely on the rest of the team and they really stepped up to that role. It’s a real blessing.”

“She came in here and isolated for 14 days and I only got to meet her by delivering food to her apartment,” added Larade, in his 10th season with the Huskies.

“She never complained and always had a smile on her face.”

Perhaps that fortitude was passed down from her father.

Trent McCleary played 192 games in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. But it was in his 192nd game with Montreal on Jan. 29, 2000, that not only ended his career but he nearly took his life.

During a game at the Bell Centre versus the Philadelphia Flyers, McCleary had skated toward his own blue-line and dropped to the ice to block a Chris Therien slap shot.
The shot caught him in the throat, fracturing his larynx and resulting in a collapsed lung. Losing air, McCleary rushed to the Canadiens’ bench and off the ice where he collapsed. Medical staff had to dislocate his jaw and perform a tracheotomy to open his airway which ultimately saved his life.

McCleary retired from hockey the following fall and became a certified financial planner. He coached Maddy in minor hockey and instilled in her to "play every shift like it’s your last”

“Because you never know what’s around the corner, an injury or what’s happening with COVID right now,” the younger McCleary said.

“He obviously didn’t have the easiest road in hockey. But he’s been an inspiration to have him as a dad and someone to look up to. His style of play is very similar to mine, just go every shift, give your absolute all and play like it’s your last time you’ll ever step on the ice.”
While the pandemic has shut down all Canadian university sports this season, the women’s hockey teams from Saint Mary’s and the Dalhousie Tigers have managed to play a handful of exhibition games under strict safety protocols.

“The atmosphere here is unreal right now,” McCleary said following their game March 13 at the Dauphinee Centre. She scored her first goal in a SMU hockey sweater late in the third period.

“Everyone is so ready to play. It’s been over a year so anything we can get is just a blessing and an honour to play.”

McCleary will return home to southwestern Saskatchewan for the summer and train for what’s hopefully an actual season in 2021-22.

“There better be a season,” she said with a laugh.

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The Innovation Credit Union U18AAA Wildcats are pleased to announce, assistant captain, Ava Metzger has committed to attend school and play hockey at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta for the Cougars. The grade eleven student, a product of Moosomin, Saskatchewan is in her first season with the Wildcats. 

In seven games this season, Metzer accumulated 2 goals, 5 assists and 10 penalty minutes.  In 68 Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League games, Metzger has 12 goals, 20 assists and 80 penalty minutes.  Metzger was named to the Top 29 SaskFirst U18 program, vying for a spot on Team Saskatchewan, that was scheduled to compete at the 2020 Canadian U18 Female National Championships before being canceled due to COVID-19. 

Metzger will join former Innovation Credit Union Wildcat, Kate Scidmore, on the Mount Royal Cougars roster.

The Innovation Credit Union U18AAA Wildcats would like to congratulate her on her commitment and look forward to having her back in a Wildcat jersey next season.