The city of Edmonton is providing the Golden Bears’ two most noteworthy hockey recruits heading into the 2012-13 season this fall.
Both left winger Rhett Rachinski and defenceman Brennan Yadlowski, of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings and Everett Silvertips respectively chose to come to the University of Alberta for this fall. Rachinski is coming off a berth in the Memorial Cup tournament earlier this year while Yadlowski was an anchor on a defence that allowed the fewest goals against in the WHL last season. Both players are Edmontonians who grew up watching successful Bears teams.
“The U of A has always been number one on my list,” Yadlowski said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and there’s this culture that they’ve built over the years. As far as I remember they’ve always been a winning team, and that’s what I want to be a part of.”
Yadlowski turned down offers from a number of other CIS schools, as well as a contract offer from Colorado of the East Coast Hockey League that he briefly played in earlier this year. He was holding out for the U of A while the Golden Bears sorted out their coaching situation and hired Ian Herbers.
Rachinski also received offers from other CIS schools, and his decision came down to a choice between the U of A and McGill. However, after Rachinski spoke with Herbers about what to expect from the U of A in the new season, his decision tipped in favour of the U of A.
“The U of A’s ability to get a coach of his quality played into my decision, and we just talked about how he’s big on player development and if guys still want to pursue a pro contract, whether it’s in the American League or Europe,” Rachinski said. “You want the coaching that’s going to get you there, and I really think the U of A has that.”
The hiring of Herbers, a former American Hockey League head coach, highlighted this winning culture, a strong selling point for both Yadlowski and Rachinski. Both players also fall in line with Herbers’ vision for the Golden Bears this fall.
“They’ve got some pretty skilled guys up front, and where I see myself is — especially in my first year — more of what I’ve been playing with the Kings as more of a defence-first player right off the bat,” Rachinski said. “I feel that’s the role that I have developed into and am successful at. It sounds like the team is needing to fill a void as far as that position is concerned. Obviously, I want to keep working on the offensive side of my game, but being a defensive specialist is something that sets me apart.”
As is common with players coming to CIS from the WHL, both Rachinski and Yadlowski are aware they must get used to the differences in schedule and the change in atmosphere that comes with the transition. With two games a week rather than the three or four they’re used to, the CIS regular season atmosphere creates a do-or-die, must-win feeling more consistently than the leagues the new Bears recruits came from.
“I’m still just as competitive as if I had gone to play in the east coast,” Yadlowski said.
“It’s just as competitive in CIS, if not more, because you’re not playing as many games. There’s more of a friendly aspect out there because guys know other players on their team a little bit better, but it’s still just as intense — and that’s what hockey is all about.”
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.