WHL Community Collective: Regina Pats

WHL Network

The Western Hockey League strives to promote and foster a welcoming community across our 22 clubs scattered throughout Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Every team is given the creative freedom to allow their players and staff to work with the organizations and groups that they are most passionate towards. The end goal is to create and maintain long-lasting relationships and ongoing partnerships within their community.

Through the WHL Community Collective we aim to highlight these outstanding initiatives done by each club over the course of the year.

This is what the Regina Pats’ #WHLCommunity looked like this season:

It seems that a 68-game regular season wasn’t enough for the Regina Pats this year, as they were caught — on eight different occasions — crashing Ehrlo Sport Venture’s Outdoor Hockey League practices throughout the season.

Ehrlo Sport Venture, which is an offshoot from the wider Ranch Ehrlo Society, provides programs aimed to give youth athletes the chance to play various recreational sports that they would not normally be able to pursue because of the high costs associated with some of the activities.

One of those programs being the Outdoor Hockey League.

Known as the ‘OHL’ in Regina, the program, which celebrated its 30th season of operation this year, runs out of eight outdoor ice surfaces located in higher-need communities across Regina.

“Sport Venture believes that every child deserves to play. We work hard, alongside community, to enable opportunities for all youth, so that those facing challenges or barriers can participate,” Gloria Patrick, the Program Manager for Ehrlo Sport Venture, said.

The entire program is free-of-charge for the families and even loans the high-cost equipment to the players for free.

Through the partnership, the Pats players got the opportunity to face-off and run skilled-based drills with the Outdoor Hockey League skaters — and under the night sky, no less!

It’s also a relationship that benefits both parties.

“Sport Venture invests in building relationships with our players and families, and the Regina Pats have certainly demonstrated that they also share this value. The entire organization has stepped up to support the youth in our program by showing care, devoting time and evoking hope. Watching the interactions on the ice between our players and the Regina Pats is inspiring; the rink is space where the players can come together to connect and feel encouraged. We appreciate the time that the Regina Pats players have given to enhance our league – from their leadership in mentoring our athletes, and supporting our local events,” Patrick said.

While the team has been involved with Ehrlo Sport Venture and it’s Outdoor Hockey League for quite some time, their partnership was able to take the next step last year when Regina Pats’ CEO Gord Pritchard became a volunteer coach for the program.

His involvement would spur a stronger relationship between the two groups which led to new and exciting ways in which the Pats could work with the OHL’s youth athletes.

This included a visit from the Pats during the league’s second annual Hockey Night in Wascana which was a part of the Frost Regina winter festival.

The event, which was held on the frozen surface of Wascana Lake, saw 40 Outdoor Hockey League participants take to the ice before getting an unexpected visit from the entire Pats team — including captain, Connor Bedard.

For the rest of the night, the Outdoor Hockey League skaters got to meet the team, take pictures, and, of course, play some well-deserved hockey.

During an interview at the event, Pritchard also spoke about what the Hockey Night in Wascana meant for the Pats organization.

“We’re very happy and very fortunate to be able to partner with the [Outdoor Hockey League], [Ehrlo] Sport Venture and Frost [Regina] to make this event come together. For them to ask us to participate, it’s an honour and it’s an opportunity for us to give back to the community that’s so supports us. We have incredible support here in Regina. I think we’re the ones that are fortunate and honoured to be out here this evening,” Pritchard said.

The Pats partnership with Ehrlo Sport Venture didn’t stop at their on-ice visits with the Outdoor Hockey League, however.

To cap off what was an already fantastic season on the outdoor ice, the President and Chairman of the Brandt Group of Companies and owners of the Regina Pats, Shaun and Gavin Semple presented Ehrlo’s Outdoor Hockey League with a $50,000 donation during the First Round of the 2023 WHL Playoffs.

It’s a gesture that Patrick and the rest of Ehrlo Sport Venture won’t soon forget.

“Partnering with the Regina Pats has provided countless positive benefits for our players and program. The Pats have brought their on-ice expertise and enthusiasm which has motivated our developing players. We are grateful for their involvement as we have shared values and alignment in goals. The positive impact of the Regina Pats is truly remarkable,” Patrick said.

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