South Peace News
Two scoring standouts with the High Prairie Red Wings junior hockey team have moved up to a higher level.
Team captain Mikal Chalifoux and Larry Yellowknee travelled to the United States for a tryout with the Binghamton Black Bears of the Federal Prospects Hockey League in the team’s inaugural season.
“It will be a great experience,” says Chalifoux, 21.
“I wasn’t expecting to get an opportunity to try out for a new team.”
Yellowknee is also excited.
“It’s great,” says Yellowknee, 21.
“I grew up playing hockey and always wanted to play in a professional league or the NHL.”
Both played centre and right wing for the Red Wings when the team arrived in High Prairie on Nov. 10, 2019 in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.
They helped lead the Red Wings to their first championship in 2020-21.
Chalifoux says championship head coach Kevin Hopfner and 2021-22 head coach Trent Meyaard were instrumental in taking him to the next level.
“I liked the experience with the Red Wings,” Chalifoux says.
“Kevin and Trent have both helped me get better.”
He started skating when he learned to walk, and moved up the ranks in the High Prairie Minor Hockey Association.
Yellowknee started playing hockey at a young age on an outdoor rink and joined the High Prairie Minor Hockey Association at age 16 on the bantam team.
Playing for the Red Wings has also helped him move towards his goals.
“The coaches told us we’re going to try to get you to a higher level of hockey,” he says.
“Maybe if I work harder, I will reach the NHL some day.”
Both players departed for New York after they played their final Red Wing game Oct. 17.
However, Chalifoux and Yellowknee remain on the Red Wing roster if they don’t make the Binghamton team.
“We’re very excited for the opportunity for Mikal and Larry to play professional hockey,” Hopfner says.
“Hopefully, this is a stepping stone for them to play at the next level.”
That’s the main role of the GMHL.
“Our ultimate goal is develop and prepare players for the next level,” Hopfner says.
He says the Red Wings have contacts in several professional hockey leagues in the United States and started the process in June just after the local team won the West Division championship.
“We reached out to a couple of teams, sent some video and Binghamtom seemed to be the best opportunity for Mikal and Larry,” Hofner says.
Then the call came from Binghamton in August.
“They were offered a personal tryout contact,” Hopfner says.
Meyaard says the two players have proven they can play at higher level up.
“Mikal and Larry have developed into great stars,” Meyaard says.
“Both deserve the opportunity in Binghamton and have put the work in so far this season since I joined.
“They help elevate the speed to our practices and – yes – we will miss them.
“I look forward to seeing who takes the next step forward and elevates his game.”
Before leaving, both played four games for the Red Wings this season. Chalifoux led the team with 18-9-27 points while Yellowknee added 8-15-23 points. The next highest player had 10 points.
Chalifoux led High Prairie in the 2020-21 championship season with 45-36-81 points in only 21 games while Yellowknee finished third in scoring with 19-24-43 points in only 19 games.