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The Great Outdoors

Candice Ward/Photo

The day they’ve been waiting for is nearly here.

An outdoor game, in their hometown, it can’t get any more special than that.

For Hitmen forwards and Regina products Carson Focht and Adam Kydd, Sunday’s WHL Prairie Classic will be unforgettable, going back to what they spent most of their childhood doing.

Playing the great game of hockey outdoors.

“My friends and I would spend hours on outdoor rinks,” Focht said. “It was always really fun, sometimes a little cold but something that I’ve always remembered and tomorrow will bring some of those memories back.

“It’s a huge deal for me,” Kydd added. “I grew up watching the Pats and dreamt of playing with or against them and to get the chance to do that and play in an outdoor game at the same time is incredible.”

The clash marks the second time that the Hitmen and Pats will battle outside, as the two clubs met for WHL Outdoors in February of 2011, which saw the Pats come away with a 3-2 win at McMahon Stadium.

“I’ll remember this game for the rest of my life,” Focht said. “I’ve heard the guys from the 2011 team say how they still remember it to this day and I’m sure we will all have those same feelings years down the line.

“It’s going to be pretty crazy and hopefully we can silence the home crowd a bit,” Kydd said. “It’s going to be a new experience for us all but at the end of the day we just need to treat it like any other game and push for two big points.”

Warmups on Sunday will mark the first time that the Hitmen will touch the ice ahead of the opening faceoff, a quick adjustment from the 15 minute pre-game skate to dialing in for game action.

They are battling the elements, the Pats and now the quick transition of playing outdoors.

“They’ll be that ‘wow’ factor,” Focht said. “During warm-ups we’ll take it all in and appreciate at the spectacle of it all but when the puck drops it’ll be down to business.

“Playing it early on is huge especially with the weather. Growing up here in Regina, it gets really cold in the winter so I’m glad it’s in October and not in December.

“We don’t really know what to expect,” Kydd added. “The conditions will play a factor and we’ve all played outdoors before but I don’t think anything can really get you ready until you are out there taking the first few shifts.”

And of course you can’t forget the added little things that they don’t usually get to use.

With some hopes of being kept warm.

“I’m hoping for heaters on the bench,” Focht laughed. “The weather doesn’t look too bad right now but I don’t think anyone would be opposed to having those handy.

“On the ice, it’s going to be cool to put on some black paint under the eyes, it’s a little added feature that we don’t always get to do but personally I’m no not sure if I’ll use a balaclava.

“Having those things will be definitely be cool,” Kydd said. “You see goaltenders in the NHL with toques on their helmets but I don’t think a toque would fit under our helmet.”

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