The Nipawin Hawks will hit the road Friday,but will be the home team in their exhibition game against the La Ronge Ice Wolves as the game will be held on the Big River First Nation.
The Jim Neilson Sports Complex was opened in September last year. The 1,500 seat arena has hosted the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders for games, plus the community just has the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and University of Regina Cougars play twice there this week. Big River First Nation CEO Derek Klein-Whitefish said the Hawks and Ice Wolves game is capping an exciting week in their community.
“We hosted the Blades and Raiders, on the weekend we hosted the U of R and U of S’s double header, now we are hosting the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) game to cap an action packed week,” Klein-Whitefish said.
The Jim Neilson Sports Complex houses more than the arena, there is a soccer field, lacrosse is available on the First Nation as well. Klein-Whitefish said the facility is state of the art, and being two hours north of Saskatoon the arena and complex is a standout in the area the community is extremely proud of.
“Whether kids want to play hockey, soccer, lacrosse, whatever, it’s a fit for all,” he added.
The community will host a tailgate park starting at 5 p.m. sponsored by Lake Country Co-op, plus ahead of puck drop there will be an on ice ceremony. Klein-Whitefish also said it’s exciting to have a couple local players on the Hawks, plus a couple First Nation players on the Ice Wolves roster. He added the local youth can see some stars in person and up close.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “Deegan Wapass was born and raised on the reservation and will be playing on the Hawks, plus Konnor Watson is from nearby, La Ronge also has a couple First Nation kids, so it will be good for the community to get out and see some of their own playing at a high level.”
Faceoff is 7 p.m.
Nipawin is 2-0 in the preseason after wins over Melfort earlier this week. The Hawks will travel to La Ronge on Saturday to cap their exhibition schedule.