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This article was published 28/10/2019 (645 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hockey fans in the Oak Bluff area have a new team to cheer for as the Winnipeg Blues are now based at The Rink Training Centre (57 South Landing Dr.).
The team, which plays in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, was formerly headquartered at the Bell MTS Iceplex, but relocated earlier this season as part of the 50 Below Sports and Entertainment deal which also brought the former Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg.
Blues head coach Gordon Burnett also recently made the move from Cranbrook, B.C. to Winnipeg. The 38-year-old grew up in Regina, Sask., where he played junior hockey before moving on to the college and then the minor league professional level. He has worked as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice, at the University of Notre Dame and with the former Arizona Sundogs. What attracted him to Winnipeg was the chance to step into the head coach role, he said.
"We have the youngest team in the league by far," Burnett said. There are just three returning players from the Blues’ 2018-19 team, and this season’s team includes one 16-year-old, five 17-year-old players and the captain is 18.
"That’s our model," Burnett said. "We’re giving younger players the opportunity to play in this league. It also gives the older players the chance to step into leadership roles."
He said The Rink Training Centre is a first-class facility. "It provides a good atmosphere for development of players," he said, noting that the centre also houses two skills and two goalie coaches, among other people and equipment designed to support hockey player development.
The Blues can be inspired by watching the Winnipeg Ice practise on the rink, although the Western Hockey League team plays its games at the University of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena.
Burnett invites local hockey fans to come out to The Rink to watch the Blues play against the Portage Terriers and other Junior A teams. Their next home game is on Sun., Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. against the Terriers.
For a schedule of Blues’ games see https://www.winnipegblues.ca
St. Vital community correspondent
Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.