Carson Sass remembers the coats. Oh, the coats.
The Red Deer Rebels defenceman still shakes his head at the thought of the bright lime green Michelin man jackets that Team Saskatchewan had to wear at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
“We were there for the second week, so we saw the closing ceremonies. After the closing ceremonies and everyone was trading their clothing,” he said.
“I got Manitoba mitts. Nobody wanted our jackets because they were ugly. There were these green Michelin man jackets.”
Sass represented Saskatchewan in Men’s Hockey and was the lone Rebel that got to experience the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C., just under a year after he was selected by Red Deer in the third round of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
The six-foot, 188-pound blueliner has played 183 WHL regular season games plus 13 more in the playoffs, all with the Rebels but still looks back with mostly fond members of the games.
With the games in Red Deer just a week away, Sass said Wednesday ahead of Rebels practice that it was fun to play for his home province, even if they were humbled by bigger hockey markets like Ontario and Alberta at the event.
“We had a not bad team, but we didn’t really do the best. Ontario and Alberta and B.C. those teams were really good at the time. Even guys from the Sask team, I play those guys on a daily basis. We see them all the time, it was kind of cool,” Sass said.
“We played against Team Ontario, we got spanked 9-0. Alberta was good too. Not trying to knock Sask Hockey, but we were just a little behind. We’re getting better that way… it was tough hockey, it was good hockey.”
Saskatchewan finished seventh in the tournament, with a 1-2-0-1 record in four round robin games. They beat New Brunswick 3-2 in the seventh-place game. Sass, in seven games, didn’t register a point.
On the ice, it was not the most successful tournament for Team Saskatchewan but off it is where Sass said the experience had the biggest impact.
“Basically how it was just a mini-Olympics. Met so many different people. One thing that stood out was the lanyard and you would trade pins with other provinces. I still have it,” he said.
And that’s where his advice extends to athletes attending the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer next week.
“Enjoy it. It’s a cliché, but just go have fun. There will be concerts every night, go have fun, it’s a once in a lifetime thing,” Sass said.
“You gotta have fun with it. Don’t be scared to try new things. Go watch skiing or ping pong. Go enjoy it.”