When the clock struck 1:15 p.m. last Friday, Garrett Hrechka knew it was go time and although he has been in many important spots throughout his hockey career, this time could go down as the most important to date.
Hrechka from Dauphin, committed to his hometown junior team earlier this year and now, he's looking to make the opening day roster. Garrett has taken part in Kings' main camp in the past; however, he's always had a backup plan as he was eligible to return to the Parkland U18 Rangers.
In three seasons with the Rangers, Garrett scored 44 goals and added 57 assists for a 101 point total in 132 games. His final season with the program saw him score 24 points and add 39 assists.
All of that is now in the past and although Garrett knows he accomplished a fair bit during his time with the region's AAA team, he also knew that any past success wouldn't guarantee him a spot on the team, he would have to earn his way.
"I felt like I needed to give it my all, if I didn't impress Doug and the rest of the staff, my hockey career would be at a standstill," said Hrechka. "I knew how important this past weekend was going to be for me."
Hrechka took part in all four scrimmages over the weekend and he's happy with how things have been going.
"I think things have been going really good, I'm just trying to get more confident with the puck and I'm trying to get my speed up," offered Hrechka.
Then on Monday night, Hrechka was paired with Ben Hackl and Colby Ralston as the Club hosted their first preseason game against the Swan Valley Stampeders. The line dominated with 10 points in total, four of which were credited to Garrett including one goal. Garrett scored his first preseason goal just six minutes into the game after Hackl opened the scoring 59 seconds in.
"We played physical and we used our speed against them," he said. "We knew where each other were at all times and it worked out."
As the Winnipeg Freeze gets set to play their first-ever game on Tuesday night against the Blues, Hrechka is on top of the league when it comes to points, albeit just one game been played. He's also taking the approach that it was just one game.
"I'm not satisfied, that's for sure. I believe that I can do more than what I did on Monday and that's my mentality moving forward," said Hrechka.
The Kings will now have a hard week of practice beginning on Tuesday afternoon before they welcome the Neepawa Natives to town for preseason game number two on Sunday evening.
Take note, Sunday's game was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 3. It was always Garrett's dream to play junior hockey in his hometown, he's done it in the past, and he wants to continue doing it for years to come.
"It's always a tremendous feeling. Playing in front of my family and friends always means a ton to me," ended Hrechka. "I feed off that energy that the home crowd provides."