Swan River's and former Parkland Ranger, Riley McKay became a Saskatoon Blade before the season began. Now as the team is on their Christmas break, Riley is sure happy that he did.

Riley and the Blades are in second place in the East Division, with a 21-10-4 record. That has them pretty comfortably in that second spot. They're seven points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors.

"I think things have been going great, I mean we have a pretty solid record," said McKay. "We as a group are pretty happy with how things have gone. It's a nice way to go into the break here."

The Blades enter the break with a 4-0-1 record in their last five games. They're also 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. The club is back on the ice on December 27 and 28. It'll be a tough test as they take on the league-leading Prince Albert Raiders in a home and home. Riley's expecting big things from the team going forward.

"Oh for sure, I think we're going to get better every day here," said McKay. "We want to keep raising the bar and we're confident that we can make that happen."

Playing in Saskatoon means Riley has played in front of his family and friends more often. Before this season, McKay spent the last couple very far away from home (Spokane).

This past weekend, it was even easier for his family and friends to come to watch him play live. The Blades rolled into the Wheat City to challenge the Brandon Wheat Kings. Riley's mom bought 55 tickets to the game so everyone could come down.

"Growing up, my family was always watching me and I could always remember them cheering so loud back then," said McKay. "They did that on Saturday as well, and it was honestly pretty funny coming out on the ice. It's always awesome to have them come down and watch me. It means a lot to me."

Riley had the chance to win the game for the Blades in Brandon. Trailing 5-3 after 40, McKay and the Blades mounted a comeback and sent the game into overtime. That was where Riley was awarded a penalty shot. He failed to score. By his own admission, with all of his family and friends in attendance, his nerves got the best of him.

"It wasn't my best attempt, that's for sure," said McKay. "It's too bad it didn't go in, but it was a pretty big comeback. It was nice that we got a point."

So far in 35 games this season, McKay has 10 points. That has him well on his way to a career year. Last year with Spokane, McKay had 13 points in 62 games. 

"Yeah, I'm pretty happy with how I've been playing, I've been getting lots of opportunities and I've been in a lot of different situations," added McKay. "I've gained the trust of our coaches, so I get to play in some situations I hadn't necessarily coming in. It's been a fun process."

"I'm hoping to put up some more points here in the second half," said McKay. "I'm getting the chances, so now I just have to capitalize. I'm having a good year so far and I'm happy with it."

Riley's next game in Brandon is on February 5.

It was a day full of hockey in McCreary yesterday. But, it was a day that was bigger than just hockey. For the McCreary Mustangs program, they've made it known in the past that giving back is huge to them. Last year, they raised $12,700 for the Ronald McDonald House in Winnipeg.

Yesterday, they hosted Ronald McDonald House Hockey Day in McCreary. The goal was to win a couple games and raise some more money.

And, overall, the day-long event raised $738 plus a carload of items. All of which will be dropped off at the Ronald McDonald House in Winnipeg today!

There were also three games:

Novice Mustangs beat EOS, 5-3.

Novice Mustangs

Atom Mustangs beat EOS, 12-2.

Atom Mustangs

Peewee Mustangs lost to Neepawa, 9-2. It was just their second loss of the season. Adam Stuhm was very good on the back end for the Mustangs in the defeat.

peewee

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Gilbert Plains Riese Gaber is heading to play college hockey for one of the most storied and richest programs there is.

The 19-year-old has committed to play for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

"I'm really excited for this, it's like my dream school honestly," said Gaber. "It's such a great feeling to be committed there. My family and I couldn't be any more excited for the future."

Gaber was originally set to be heading to Western Michigan. After de-committing there last month, Riese found himself looking for a school once again. Obviously, it didn't take long. Riese had other options as well, but getting the chance to play for UND was just too sweet to pass up.

"Once I became free again, they (UND) got in touch with me and we've been talking here for the last while," said Gaber. "Once I went out there for a school visit, I had a feeling that things were heading in the right direction. I'm pretty fortunate that we got things done."

Gaber has made it very easy for scouts to circle his name as a player they wanted. In 26 games this season, Riese has piled up 22 points. That 0.85 points per game average is third on the team. The 22 points are also third on the team.

"I think I had a pretty solid first half of the season, but there is definitely room for improvement," said Gaber. "There are a lot of things I have to work on and I'll work hard to make sure I do improve in the second half."

"One thing I've been working on a lot is focusing on defensive details," he added. "Another thing is my shot. I'm trying to get more pucks to the net. I also need to get my shot harder and stronger."

At this point, Riese isn't sure when his collegiate hockey career will begin. It may happen next season or it may happen in the 2020-21 season. Regardless of when it does, Gaber's counting down the days until it does.

"Playing my first game is going to be absolutely amazing," added Gaber. "It's going to be so cool to see all the fans and the atmosphere there. It's going to be awesome."

If getting the chance to play for the Fighting Hawks wasn't sweet enough for Riese, this would definitely add a cherry on top. Being just under six hours away, there's no doubt that Riese's family and closest friends will be heading to Grand Forks to see him play live. That's something the family has been missing this season as Riese is all the way in Dubuque. 

"That's a huge thing for me, they can just drive down for a weekend whenever they want," added Gaber. "It's a huge bonus. We're all really excited."

UND has been known to graduate their top players to the NHL level. The list of players include Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Zach Parise, and Travis Zajac... just to name a few.

"There's a super-rich history at UND, and they've been producing top NHL players for years," added Gaber. "It's an honour to be a part of the program."

It was a fantastic weekend for the Grand Plains Bantam Ice Dogs.

They played in a tournament in Neepawa and are coming back home with silver medals. 

In their first game, Reese Boguski and Ashley Shiner scored but they lost a close 4-2 battle to Morden.

The Ice Dogs then went on a roll. Jayselyn Nybo scored twice to lead the team to a 6-1 win over the White City Prairie Storm. 

Riley Turetsky, Madison Haliuk, Allee Hrechka, and Tristyn Hanneson all scored one in the big win. 

Hailey Hojnocki scored three goals in the team’s next game and it came at a great time. The three snipes turned out to be enough to advance the team to the gold medal game. The Ice Dogs didn’t stop there, however. They scored seven more times in a 10-2 win against Neepawa.

KC McDonald had two of the goals and so did Ashley Shiner. Jayselyn Nybo, Riley Turetsky, and Brooke Minshull all scored one each. 

The team came up short in the finals, in a 6-2 loss against Morden. Ashley Shiner and Riley Turetsky scored the goals. 

It wasn't the medal he was looking for, but none the less, it was still a fantastic week for Swan Valley Stampeders Matthew Osadick.

The star winger suited up for Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge and they brought home a bronze medal. They won the bronze by beating the Czech Republic, 3-1.

Matt will now return back to Swan River to suit up for the Stampeders. He's been a star there with 42 points in 27 games.

Matt Radomsky (Steinbach) and Reilly Funk (Portage) also joined Matt on the team as the three representatives from the MJHL.

The saying "it's not how you start, it's how you finish" was spot on for the Bantam Parkland Rangers earlier today. 

A slow start saw them trail 5-1 to Central Plains in their final game of the weekend. That's where things turned around.

They scored five of the games next six goals to tie CP, 6-6.

Steven Arp led the way with three goals. Carter Zalischuk had two and Drake Pahl had a single. 

Midget Rangers:

Hayden Lacquette scored once, but it wasn't enough. 

The Rangers lost 6-1 to the Bruins.

A Bantam tournament took over Credit Union Place the last two days.

Here are the results:

Aspen Insurance Bantam Kings beat The Pas, 7-2.

Central Plains beat The Pas, 7-5.

Central Plains beat Aspen Insurance Bantam Kings, 7-3.

Aspen Insurance Bantam Kings beat The Pas, 5-4.

Atom tournament in Brandon:

The Dauphin Red Knights beat the Dauphin Knights, 8-6 to win the Consolation Championship.

Dauphin Jr. Kings finished in second place on the B-side.

Dauphin's Lisa Hale, Ashley Sirminski, Laurie MacDonnell, and Lisa Bartley are now getting ready to play for a buffalo.

The foursome won their spot to the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts Provincial Championships by beating team Ursel yesterday.

Ursel then won her spot by beating team Sagert.

Men's side:

Two perfect games has the Greg Todoruk rink heading to Virden.

Greg, Dwight Bottrell, Darcy Todoruk, and Rob Lulashnyk earned their spot to the Viterra Championships.

Also earning a berth to tbe Viterra's from the A-side was team Robertson.

Robertson, Ray Baker, Bob Scales, Mark Hadway, and Peter Prokopowich won both of their games.

Butch Mouck will play at 2:00 p.m. at the DCC for the final berth.

The Parkland Bantam Rangers outplayed the Southwest Cougars for 50 minutes tonight, but it wasn’t quite enough. 

A hot goaltending performance led the Cougars to a 4-1 win over Parkland.

The Rangers outshot the Cougars 33-24.

Parkland is back at it Sunday afternoon. They play at 3:30 against Central Plains in Roblin.

Midget Rangers:

They kicked off a weekend road trip in Winnipeg, earlier today. 

The Wild ended up beating Parkland, 4-0. Zach Grouette made 38 saves. 

Parkland plays the Winnipeg Bruins on Sunday afternoon. They’ll be looking to snap their 12-game losing streak. 

Roblin's Josh Brook is getting set to spend his holidays on the coast. 

The future Montreal Canadien will represent the country as he was selected to play in the World Junior Hockey Championships. They kick off on December 26 in BC. 

Josh is one of seven back end players on the recently named Canadian team.

Brook has really settled into his role as a leader on the Moose Jaw Warriors this season. He's already racked up 33 points in 25 games. 

Jayce Hawryluk is going to the show! The Florida Panthers have recalled the Roblin native. 

Jayce is enjoying a fantastic season. Before getting called up, he was leading the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL) with 28 points. 

Hawryluk has yet to play a regular season NHL game, so there is no doubt his first one will be very special.