Anticipation has been building in the town of Carberry, as it prepares to host a Manitoba Junior Hockey League game between the Neepawa Natives and OCN Blizzard. The two clubs will play on Friday, Oct. 9, at the Carberry Plains Community Centre.
Neepawa Natives general manager Myles Cathcart said playing a regular season game in Carberry is in a way, a return to the team’s roots from when they first joined the MJHL back in 1989.
“Early in the existence of the team, we’d have the training camps and exhibition games in Carberry,” noted Cathcart. “There was also a junior B team in Carberry that was affiliated with us, so there was a real connection between the two communities.”
Laine Wilson, who is the manager of parks and recreation in the town of Carberry, said there are many local volunteers who have been working diligently to prepare for the event. She added many more will also be busy the day of the game, volunteering their time to ensure it runs smoothly.
“Some of our local service groups have helped with spreading the word about the game. Getting the message out there. There will also be people working security, or as ticket takers, concessions for game day. A lot of assistance is needed to ensure the event is a success,” noted Wilson. “As well, Carberry Minor Hockey has been working with the Neepawa Natives in relation to the sponsorship of the ice. Because of that, players in Carberry Minor Hockey are going to be able to get into the game for free and from everything I’ve heard, they’re really excited about that. Overall, there’s just a real anticipation here and a lot of people who are looking forward to seeing the game.”
Over the past few years, the Neepawa Natives have played regular season games outside of their home arena, in several different communities, such as Minnedosa, Brandon and Cartwright. Cathcart said it’s part of the team’s ongoing effort to build its brand across the region.
“It’s important to do everything we can to improve our fan base across western Manitoba. We have incredibly dedicated fans in Neepawa, but games like this can expose new fans to the organization. The games also serve as a showcase for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League to other communities as a fast and exciting game. I definitely think that it’s going to be a very positive experience for everyone involved,” said Cathcart.
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season game between the Neepawa Natives and OCN Blizzard will begin at 7:30 pm at the Carberry Plains Community Centre. Any season ticket holder from Neepawa or surrounding communities wishing to attend the game, will have their tickets honoured at the door.
The two teams will meet once again on Saturday, Oct, 10 at the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa. Opening face-off for that matchup is also scheduled for 7:30 pm.