Canucks open provincials with win

Katie Brickman
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The Moose Jaw Canucks passed their first hurdle.

The Moose Jaw Canucks include: coach Kevin Smith, back left, Riley Morhart, Wyatt Riendeau, Payton Denet, Kagan Meier, Xyrus Smith, Kaleb Wilson, coach Stephen Coleman, coach Kevin Wilson, Aiden Coleman, front left, Cody Robbins, Jordan Logan, Michael Blazieko, Kyle Wilson, Dakota Statham and Matthew Evans. submitted photo

After opening with a 4-2 victory over the Saskatoon Braves on Friday afternoon at the Baseball Saskatchewan Midget AA provincial tournament in Yorkton, the Canucks are feeling good.

“They were the unknown, so it was good to get that one over with,” said Kevin Smith, head coach of the Canucks. “Defensively, I thought we played very well and we got enough runs to win.”

The Canucks continue to play solid baseball down the stretch.

Prior to opening up the provincial tournament, the local team won 14 of their last 16 games and is also coming off the Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League Midget AA bottom-half playoff title.

“Everything looked good, but I was a little concerned if we would play with some nerves and tightness, but I didn’t see that at all,” said Smith. “That was a good sign for the first game. I think everything is coming together at the right time.”

Smith was able to keep all of his pitchers under 40, so that they could all be used again on a busy Saturday.

“With three games today, that is huge,” he said. “Now, we can burn a couple of guys just to try and get to Sunday. But, at least we have the opportunity to make some decisions.”

The tests become more difficult on Saturday as well as their opponents could be stronger. The Canucks hadn’t faced the Braves prior to this meeting, so beating them was important to start the tournament.

“That first game and not knowing this team, it was huge to start with a win,” said Smith. “If we dropped this one, we are playing North East and that is going to be one of our toughest games. I think it was huge to start this way.”

The Canucks play the North East Red Sox at 8 a.m. then face Regina White Sox at 1 p.m. and wrap up pool play against Weyburn at 6 p.m.

They would like to sweep their pool, but are squarely focused on playing good baseball against the Red Sox.

“I think we just have to start with North East and see what happens,” said Smith. “Our goal there is to win and then we will re-evaluate our goals for the other two games. We would like to sweep the table tomorrow if we can, but you can’t panic if you don’t win first thing in the morning either.”

The Canucks will send Nolan Berner to the mound, who they picked up from the Assiniboia Aces for this tournament.

“They haven’t seen him, so that is good,” said Smith. “Then we have six other pitchers that can come in.”

The playoff round gets started Sunday afternoon.

Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.

Organizations: Canucks, Saskatoon Braves, Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League Midget AA Red Sox Regina White Sox

Geographic location: Yorkton, North East, Weyburn

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