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Prince Albert – Sport Memories

One winter evening, back in the 1980’s, I went to the Kinsman Arena here in Prince Albert. As I entered the playing area, there was a hockey game already underway. I had to move to the end boards to watch the game. There was standing room only.

As I stood watching, the puck was fed back to a short, stocky player positioned at the blue line. His team was on a ‘power play.’ He wound up and released a slap shot. I stood in amazement as the puck screamed to the net – whap! The goalie did not stand a chance – the puck was in the net before he could move. The netting at the back of the goal bulged out to the point of almost giving way. The goal light flashed; the crowd erupted in cheers; the shooter simply stood there; he made no big show to celebrate his accomplishment.

“Wow!” I said out loud to no one in particular. I had come to the rink on my own. I turned to a man standing beside me and said, “Who is that guy? I have never seen a slap shot like that before!”

The stranger replied, “That’s Freddie Sasakamoose.”

I know, I know, I should provide more background to this story. I can’t. I can’t even tell you the date or specific year of that game; I can’t even tell you the names of the teams playing, or what drew me to the game; I can’t even tell you who won the game; I even had to be told the name of the unprepossessing player who had fired the puck. But, I can tell you he obviously was the reason for the standing room crowd that night, and I can tell you I will always remember THAT SLAP SHOT!

On November 24, 2020, Freddie Sasakamoose died. Covid 19 was the opponent. But, perhaps the way Freddie led his life will be the example of the way we will all beat the last opponent he faced – never give up - play the game to the end.

There is another game I will mention here. It was a game that I did not get to see. It was played in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It was played 50 years ago this past November. It was not a hockey game. It featured high school  football. The Riverside Rams from Prince Albert met the Notre Dame Hounds from Wilcox, Saskatchewan. The game was to decide who would be Provincial Champions.

On November 7, 1970, the Rams defeated the Hounds by a score of 32 to 12. The score indicated the type of game it was – the Rams dominated, even though they were considered the underdogs.  

I had often seen the Rams play in Prince Albert’s high school football league. They were a very well coached team. They always came out prepared and always gave their best, playing as a solid, complete unit. They emerged champions of their city by playing hard. They defeated the North Battleford Mustangs to win the northern title by playing hard. And it was to be expected that they would win the provincial title by playing hard.

So, it is only suitable now to look back and commend those Riverside Rams for what they accomplished 50 years ago. I hope those that remember that day will say once more, “Good job you guys!” Good job to Gary Laing, Don Friske, Tony Basaraba, Rod Young, Coach Bill Watson, Coach Howard Gange, Coach Robert Reid, Coach Bob Smisko, and all those other Rams that formed a dominate team worthy of the trophy they brought home to Prince Albert. 

Prince Albert did think that trophy and that team worthy. The Riverside Rams of 1970 were inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

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Wednesday January 12, 2022