Reunited and it feels so good.
Riley Stotts knew that once he was traded to the Hitmen from the Swift Current Broncos Saturday afternoon in a seven-player deal, it would pair him once again with a long-time friend.
That friend is none other than defenceman Drea Esposito.
“We’ve been playing hockey together since we were nine,” Stotts said. “We saw each other every day from September to July when we were growing up back home in Winnipeg.”
“I’m happy to be here with the Hitmen and happy to be playing with him again.”
As soon as the transaction was announced, Stotts was rushing to get to his new home and knew that it was a new opportunity for him in his WHL career.
It was quite the frenzy for him to get all his things packed up and make the drive, but said that if possible he would’ve arrived in town that same day.
“It was a quick few days but I got here as soon as I could because I was so excited to get going,” he said. “I’m happy to be here and (am) looking forward to improving myself in every game and practice.”
For Esposito, the move not only gave him his old teammate back but also a new billet brother as the two are now paired up in the same household.
The chance to pair the two together under the same roof was a no-brainer and has since benefitted them both.
“Having not only a billet brother but someone I’ve known for so many years is awesome living with every day,” Esposito said. “It’s something I wouldn’t expect to happen but when it did I was really excited.”
“It’s a bit like the old days when I would go over to his place for our spares in grade nine. I’m thrilled to have him as not just a billet brother but a teammate too.”
Stotts was a prolific goal scorer when he laced up the skates for the Winnipeg Monarchs in Bantam AAA and then with the Winnipeg Wild in Midget AAA.
The former first-round WHL Bantam pick racked up 68 points, (39 goals, 29 assists) in 28 games with the Monarchs. He then translated that with a 58 point season the following season in Midget with the Wild (31 goals, 27 assists) in 37 tilts.
The Winnipeg native gave Hitmen fans a glimpse of what he offers when he stepped foot onto the ice, and is hoping to build off a weekend that saw him rack up two assists.
“I try to be fast and make plays with the puck,” he said. “I always look to create chances and want to help the team succeed as much as I can.”