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Shawn Sarkonak knows how it feels to be a Parkland U18 Ranger.

He knows how the long bus trips feel, he knows how great it felt after the team won and he knows how it felt after the team came up short. He also knows the great pride players and coaches take in getting the opportunity to represent the region at the U18 AAA level.

In the 1996-97 season, Sarkonak donned the White & Blue as a member of the Rangers. They finished that season with 13 wins and 29 points. A hockey team is often referred to as a brotherhood. Players come together and spend hundreds and hundreds of hours together throughout a season. At the end of the day regardless of wins and losses, the friendships made and memories made last a lifetime.

For Shawn, being a Ranger was a dream come true.

"It was amazing to be a part of the program, I had the chance to play with guys that I grew up playing with and even guys I grew up playing against," said Sarkonak. "It was a great year even though we didn't win as often as we would have liked."

Following that season, Shawn moved forward to play some senior hockey, his last year coming in the 2006-07 season when he had five goals and 13 points in 13 games. These days, Shawn spends plenty of time travelling to Saskatchewan to watch his daughter play in the winter months. During the summer, you can find Shawn on the field coaching rugby.

Sarkonak is one of the main reasons why the rugby programs in Dauphin have become somewhat of a powerhouse in the province. Just recently, Shawn coached the Clipper girls to a league and provincial championship.

Last winter, Shawn was back with the Rangers, but this time, with the U15 program as he served as an assistant coach. Sarkonak takes great pride in being as involved as he can and his passion is helping young athletes excel as much as possible.

Come this fall, Shawn will remain with the Ranger program; however, he is back with the team he enjoyed playing so much with more than 25 years ago. As the 2024-25 season continues to near, the U18 Rangers have announced that Shawn has become the team's new President. 

"It's an honour to be a part of the program once again," said Sarkonak. "I am really looking forward to working with everyone on the board and the team moving forward."

Jason Gibbs will return as the team's general manager.

"I have known Jason for a number of years, but I haven't had a chance to work with him closely," offered Sarkonak. "Everyone has amazing things to say about him, he puts everything into the Rangers program, he is a very hard worker. I'm looking forward to working alongside him."

With confirmation that Jason will return and Shawn now in the fold, next up is the team's coaching staff. Tyler Carefoot will not return as the team's head coach, nor will Colton Robak or Chris Belhumeur as assistant coaches.

"With the new season around the corner, there will be an announcement coming up shortly with a new coaching staff," ended Sarkonak. "New faces that have been a part of it either as a coach and or player. We are looking forward to sharing that with the public soon."

Training camp for the Rangers will take place in September with the season beginning later that month.