Friendly ri­vals — for a cou­ple of nights

Pats’ Steel, Mahura en­joy be­ing part of Canada Rus­sia Se­ries along­side War­riors’ How­den and Gre­gor

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - CLASSIFIEDS - GREG HARDER

up so it’s not too bad that way,” said Gre­gor. “It’s a lit­tle weird hav­ing them in (the War­riors’ room) … but that’s just how it is with a se­ries like this. All these guys have ended up play­ing to­gether, whether it’s U17s or U18s. We’re friends when we’re around the team. When things get back to nor­mal, we’re back to bat­tling it out.”

How­den, who’s from Oak­bank, Man., joined Steel and Mahura this sum­mer at Canada’s world ju­nior de­vel­op­ment camp and ex­hi­bi­tion tour­na­ment. They were pre­vi­ously team­mates on the Cana­dian un­der-18 team that won gold at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka tour­na­ment.

“It’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent (shar­ing the War­riors’ room) but I’m bud­dies with Howdy and Gregs,” noted Steel. “We’ve known each other for a while. It’s not hos­tile or any­thing but come Fri­day I’m sure we’ll put it aside and play hockey.

“There’s def­i­nitely a (mu­tual) re­spect,” added the Pats’ cap­tain. “You go out there and ex­pect the guy to play you hard. When you get off the ice you say, ‘How’s it go­ing?’ That’s a (com­mon) thing in hockey.”

It’s no dif­fer­ent for the men be­hind the bench. Regina’s John Pad­dock and Swift Cur­rent’s Manny Viveiros were as­sis­tant coaches un­der Moose Jaw’s Tim Hunter in the Canada-Rus­sia Se­ries. Their teams are bat­tling each other for top spot in the WHL’s Eastern Con­fer­ence.

“We were sit­ting hav­ing cof­fee (Mon­day) morn­ing in Moose Jaw and guys are look­ing: ‘What are those three guys do­ing sit­ting to­gether?’ “Hunter re­called with a laugh. “It’s about giv­ing our kids the best op­por­tu­nity with the best coach­ing.

They’re real good coaches and great guys. We’ve had a lot of laughs in go­ing through this.”

They won’t be laugh­ing Fri­day — not with first place on the line. Regina (11-6-2) is two points be­hind the front-run­ning War­riors (13-4-0), who’ve played two fewer games.

With the race tight­en­ing up, there’s no more room for pleas­antries.

“Ab­so­lutely not,” added Mahura. “It’ll be right back to the war.”

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