Several local hockey players participated in the Bantam SaskFirst Tournament during the weekend in Regina.
The Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA), in partnership with the Western Hockey League (WHL) hosted the tournament which invited 160 of the top bantam players representing the eight zones in the province.
Among the local players on the Zone 4 team are: Carson Dereniwsky and Vaughn Wilgosh of Canora who play with the Yorkton Terriers; Jake Huska of Preeceville who plays with the Terriers; and Kishaun Gervais of Kamsack who plays with the Terriers.
The Bantam SaskFirst Program is open to all second year bantam-aged players from across the province. The tournament allows the players to compete against their peers while offering an opportunity to be recognized and showcased as scouts and representatives from a variety of leagues will be in attendance. There is a long list of notable players who have gone through the Bantam SaskFirst Program which most recently includes: Haydn Fleury (Red Deer Rebels) and Rourke Chartier (Kelowna Rockets) who played on the Canadian World Junior Hockey Team as well as NHLers Brayden Schenn (Philadelphia Flyers) and Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh Penguins).
The SHA takes great pride in the Bantam SaskFirst program which follows the Saskatchewan Development Model (SDM) – a partnership the SHA developed with the Western Hockey League (WHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL) to create an athlete focused development program.
The SaskFirst High Performance Program begins every February with zone camps held across the province and are open to all players in the U16 category. The top players are then invited to take part in the SaskFirst Tournament held in April at which time the top 42 are chosen to attend summer camp. From there the players strive to make the cut, get an invite to the fall camp, and ultimately be selected to be a part of the 2016 edition of the U16 Male Team Saskatchewan.
In addition, the SaskFirst Program is a gateway to Hockey Canada’s High Performance Program which includes the National Teams such as the World Juniors.
The SHA created this elite SaskFirst Program to ensure not only players, but coaches and officials all receive ample opportunity for development both on and off the ice. The SaskFirst Program is unique as no other provincial branches offer such as in depth developmental program for athletes, coaches and officials. It remains the mission of the SHA to lead, promote and develop positive hockey experiences across the entire Province of Saskatchewan.