Rick Freese has taken the past couple of years off from coaching hockey to spend plenty of time with his family. While he enjoyed every second of family time, recently he was provided with an opportunity to return behind the bench and now, he is set to lead the region's U15 AAA team.
The Parkland U15 Rangers begin their season on Saturday night at Credit Union Place at 7:00 p.m. and Freese will be the team's head coach this season after Tom White stepped down.
"I missed it the past few years but I really enjoyed my time with my young family," said Freese. "It's great to be back now and I'm looking forward to what's to come with our team."
The Rangers played in a preseason tournament last weekend in Yorkton and they came away as B-side champions after a win against the Regina Pat Blues in the B-side final. Overall, they won three of their four games.
Then shortly after, the team announced their roster for the upcoming season. Also joining this year's coaching staff are Bruce Helgeson, Theron Ash, and Matt Kustra will serve as the team's goalie coach.
Here is the team's full roster.
Following Saturday's game, the team will welcome the Pembina Valley Hawks to Credit Union Place on Friday at 4:00 p.m. While Freese isn't sure what the rest of the league will have to offer, he does believe this year's Rangers squad will have what it takes to compete after a solid start in Yorkton.
"If our guys stacked up that well against some really good AAA teams in Saskatchewan, there is no reason we can't be competitive here," said Freese. "There are going to be some really solid Winnipeg teams and rural teams. We're not discounting anyone, we just want to make sure that we are ready to go."
One of Parkland's strengths heading into the contest is without a doubt their forward group as there is some firepower. Overall, it appears to be a very well-rounded team as on top of their skill up front, the team is solid on the back end and in the net as well.
"We have some natural goal-scoring talent, without a doubt," offered Freese. "We just have to make sure we start in our own end first, we need to defend first and go from there."
After opening their season with two home games in Dauphin, the team heads on the road for four straight before playing in Grandview on October 15 against the Winnipeg Wild Red. On top of home games in Dauphin and Grandview, the Rangers will also host home games in Russell and Swan River.
The team's full schedule is here.