Seeing the familiar faces of friends and family over the last several days at the RBC Cup has renewed Kylar Hope’s appreciation of just how much home means to him—both off and on the ice.
“It’s great to be back,” said the West Kelowna Warriors forward. “On the ice, everywhere you look, you know someone, somebody’s banging on the glass or waving at you. I have a lot of friends here and it’s been great to see them again.”
Hope and the BCHL-champion Warriors are in Lloydminster, Sask./Alta. this weekend contending for the national junior A hockey championship.
The 20-year-old hails from Lashburn, Sask., a community just 20 minutes to the southeast of Lloydminster, where he grew up and attended school.
With the Western Canada Cup in hand, Hope paid a visit late last week to his former elementary school and was pleasantly surprised by the response.
“It was awesome,” he said of the school visit. “All the kids seem to know me and it’s nice to think maybe you can inspire some of them. One kid told his dad he was excited to see me, so hopefully that means it was positive for them.”
Hope also showed his Warriors teammates some good, old prairie hospitality as his family hosted them for a barbecue last Friday night on the Hope’s acreage.
“I took the whole team out there, it was pretty cool to show them where I grew up…we had a big steak supper, and played some football,” said Hope, who was also happy to reunite with a friend of the four-legged variety. “It was really nice for me to go home, nice to see my dog, Cooper…that’s a big part of home.”
As for potential distractions with the prevalence of family and friends, Hope insists it hasn’t been a problem.
“We all stay at the hotel with the team, so it’s not hard to focus,” he said. “It’s cool being at home, but once you’re on the ice it’s not hard to block out what you need to.”
Hope and the Warriors (1-1) will take on the Trenton Gold Hawks today (2:30 p.m. Pacific time) at the RBC Cup, before wrapping up the round robin on Wednesday against the Carleton Place Canadians from Ontario.
Warriors’ forward Garrett Forster has committed to St. Norbert College in Wisconsin for the 2016-17 varsity hockey season.
A native of Delta, the four-year BCHL veteran came over to West Kelowna in an off-season trade with the Victoria Grizzlies.
Forster put up 22 goals and 51 points during the 2015-16 regular season. In 24 playoff games with the Warriors, he’s added six goals and 12 assists.