Skating out onto the ice at SaskTel Centre, even just to practice, is a special feeling for Saskatoon Blades forward Tyler Parr this fall.
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Entering his third season in the Blades organization, Parr is hopeful to play a full slate of games in 2023-24.
“After being out for so long you can’t take any games for granted,” said Parr. “So being out there again is just a blast, I’m having fun every second I’m on the ice.”
After a breakout 27 games last season where he posted 14 points, Parr was sidelined in December with an upper-body injury that would keep him out for the remainder of the regular season.
He only received the green light to return to the lineup four months later, in the midst of Saskatoon’s memorable three-round playoff run.
“I played into the third round against Red Deer and against Winnipeg,” said Parr. “I felt maybe not 100 per cent leg-wise and lungs-wise. But now with a full summer of training, camp and pre-season games here, I’m feeling like I haven’t missed a beat.”
Saskatoon Blades reflect on memorable playoff run
Parr isn’t the only Blades forward looking to put an injury-plagued season in the dust, as the team is also celebrating the return of a healthy Jayden Wiens.
“That’s the big thing for me is just trying to stay healthy,” said Wiens. “Just tryin to keep injuries out of the way. Obviously it takes a toll on a guy to have an injury for two months of a year. But obviously big hopes for this year, we have a really good team coming back.”
Wiens was placed on injured reserve last December with a significant lower-body injury, however he was able to return quicker than expected after two months and was a part of Saskatoon’s entire playoff run, recording eight goals and 10 points in 18 games.
Blades head coach Brennan Sonne has liked what both players have brought in training camp and pre-season and expects the duo to be key parts of the locker room heading into the regular season.
“Injuries or not, they both played in playoffs,” said Sonne. “[Parr] less than Wiens, but I want them to be leaders.”
Parr’s spot on the team is essentially secure as a returning 18-year-old, paired alongside several other 2005-born players on the roster including Lukas Hansen, Jordan Keller, Misha Volotovskii, Rowan Calvert and Tanner Molendyk, who have been identified as key contributors with another year of experience.
“That group needs to take that next step of leaders,” said Sonne. “They’re three-year guys, I know they’re 18, but I think it’s time to start carrying the pace and the culture.”
“This is a pretty epic group of ’05s in my opinion. All really good players, all really dedicated and brainy. So I’m definitely looking for those guys to take that next step.”
Wiens, meanwhile, will be battling for one of three overage slots on the Blades roster this season along with Trevor Wong, Jake Chiasson, Spencer Shugrue and Charlie Wright.
Now with a clean bill of health, it’s a spot he’s determined to seize and continue the Blades’ upward trajectory.
“Obviously my goal is to make this team,” said Wiens. “So I hope that I can do that, but I wouldn’t say it weighs on me. Just come in, do my thing, do my job and whatever happens, happens.”
The Blades will continue their pre-season on Wednesday night in Regina versus the Pats, before wrapping up their exhibition schedule in Warman on Saturday night against the Prince Albert Raiders.
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