A few thousand students from Regina and surrounding communities traded the classroom for the rink.
It was all part of the Regina Pats first-ever hockey day game on Monday morning at the Brandt Centre against the Red Deer Rebels. The event was organized by the team and the Prairie Valley School Division, where most of the students at the game were from.
Row after row of yellow school buses lined the parking lot on the grounds of Evraz Place. Some students had their faces painted, some carried signs, while others sported a Pats jersey, like Aiden Nelson, a Grade 4 student at St. Francis Community Elementary School in the Queen City.
“It’s actually pretty fun – kind of noisy sometimes. When the whistle goes, then they just start screaming and stuff,” he described.
The crowd definitely sounded a little younger than usual, with the majority of children between Grade 4 and Grade 8, but they certainly didn’t lack enthusiasm. It was easily one of the loudest games of the year at the venue.
“It’s pretty loud. My ears are ringing,” said Colten Wasteste, a Grade 7 student from Fort Qu’Appelle Elementary.
“It’s actually amazing. The bus ride was pretty long, but it’s all worth it to come to this wonderful Pats game.”
The action away from school wasn’t just about watching a sport. Some students had to complete an activity booklet that related hockey to classroom subjects, such as geography and anatomy. There was also an anti-bullying awareness quiz. In addition, students from one school conducted ice temperature measurements during numerous points in the game, learning how the effects of the game and the lighting impact the ice quality.
Even though the Pats lost to the Rebels 2-1, players appreciated the crowd’s energy.
“As soon as we came out they were loud and it got me going. I had the chills going to get my water bottle,” said goaltender Tyler Brown.
Despite an underlying theme of anti-bullying, Pats leading point scorer Adam Brooks admitted they weren’t going to go soft on a competitive Red Deer squad.
“It’s great to have the kids out here and you don’t want to set a bad example for them, but there was no letting up that’s for sure,” he said.
Corporate sponsors chipped in to cover the cost of the tickets and transportation for the students.