The Seattle Thunderbirds have many connections to Saskatoon, including defenceman Kevin Korchinski.
Korchinski was born, raised, and played minor hockey in bridge city up until getting drafted by the Thunderbirds in 2019.
To cap off the visit and the team’s western Canada road trip, Korchinski scored, in a 4-2 defeat to the Blades on Jan. 14.
“I never played in Saskatoon while in the WHL. I’m really looking forward to it. I have a lot of family and friends at the game who have never seen me play live,” Korchinski said.
Korchinski’s mom Stacey Patenaude said more than 30 family members came out to the game to cheer on Korchinski.
”The dates have been circled on the calendar since the schedule came it. It’s very special for us. We’ve never seen him play for Seattle in Saskatoon,” Patenaude said.
Kevin’s teammate goaltender, Scott Ratzlaff, also has ties to Saskatoon. His father and grandfather are from the town of Rosthern, Sask., which is about 45 minutes north of Saskatoon on Highway 11.
“I love the support. Looking forward to it. I know there will be lots of Ratzlaff family in stands for the game. Appreciate all the support,” Ratzlaff said.
It was Ratzlaff’s first time playing in Saskatoon as well. His father Gordon said his grandpa got to watch him in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. They share a special bond, as his grandfather was also a goaltender.
”I think it’s quite exciting, especially for his grandfather. He’s very close with his grandfather. He’s getting up there in age and doesn’t get to travel or see Scott a whole lot these days while he’s playing,” said Gordon Ratzlaff.
The duo also won gold medals over the last year. Ratzlaff won gold at the Hlinka Gretzky event and Korchinski won gold at the World Junior Championships.
”He’s a great goaltender, Ratzy. We are incredibly grateful to have him in the net because we know he will make the saves when we need him to. He’s also a great teammate,” Korchinski said.
“He (Kevin) is a great leader on the ice and in the dressing room,” Ratzlaff said. “It’s great to have him as one of our captains leading by example every day. He cares about his teammates.”
The Thunderbirds loaded up with talent on the WHL’s most recent trade deadline in mid-January, allowing them to boast the top offensive team in the Western Conference and the top defensive teams in the league.
Ratzlaff and Korchinski are aiming to take this team to the promised land and rewrite the script on how last season ended when they lost to Edmonton in the WHL final.
And not only that but take this team to a Memorial Cup victory.
–Brady Ratzlaff of Global News is a cousin to Scott Ratzlaff. —