Blades’ Atwal spent Summer giving back and growing the game
Saskatoon, SK – The Saskatoon Blades are proud to operate alongside the WHL, CHL and NHL as inclusive and diverse organizations. As such, the Blades were excited to learn one of our own players had taken it upon himself to give back to the community with the aim of spreading the message of inclusiveness and diversity in the sport of hockey in his off-season.
Forward Arjun Atwal spent part of his summer between July and August serving as an instructor for young South Asian hockey players in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta.
Atwal, who made his debut in the WHL with the Blades last season, was invited to mentor and coach at a new hockey school known as ‘APNA Hockey.’ APNA Hockey serves, but is not limited to, the primary purpose of growing hockey talent in the South Asian Community. It is the first of its kind. ‘APNA’ in Punjabi translates to ‘Our’ and the organization also extends its welcome to all young hockey players regardless of their ethnicity and background.
Lali Toor, the founder of APNA Hockey, knew of Atwal as their fathers are friends and Toor grew up playing hockey against Atwal’s older brother. Toor and Atwal met in May where Atwal was sought to volunteer at the APNA Hockey Tent during Edmonton’s Sikh Heritage Parade. Atwal then worked as an instructor at the first APNA Hockey camp, working with initiation to peewee grade players on basic skills.
Toor stresses the importance of Atwal’s role in mentoring the next generation of hockey players. “By having Arjun involved in this program, kids in our community had the opportunity to know Arjun and be mentored by Arjun.” He considers Atwal among the best when it comes to Indo-Canadian hockey players. “Hockey participation has increased in the South Asian community, and I am very thrilled I can provide kids with a platform for mentorship with the likes of Arjun, and in the future, more South Asian players.”
“Overall it was a great experience getting to know younger East-Indian hockey players,” explained Atwal. “Actually, I didn’t know there are as many as there are but it was good to find out and get to know some of them.” Atwal sees a lot of value in the work being done by APNA and hopes to continue to help the community as a hockey player. “I think it is very important to have a mentor, someone to look up to, someone to be like. It makes you better.”
Atwal was acquired by the Saskatoon Blades via trade midway through last season from the Victoria Royals with whom he had yet to debut. Before joining the Blades, Atwal had recorded numerous decorations including leading the Alberta Midget Hockey League in points in the 2015-16 season, picking up 1st team All-Star honours alongside being named the league’s top forward. In 2014-15 he lead the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League with most goals and points as well as earning the most sportsmanlike player award.
Last season, Atwal split his time between the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey league with 31 points in 33 games before being acquired by the Saskatoon Blades and registering 4 points in 29 games. Due to his late birthday, this season is the first he is eligible for the NHL Entry Draft.
The Saskatoon Blades open the 2017-18 WHL regular season at home on Friday, September 22nd versus the Swift Current Broncos. Game time is 7:00pm at SaskTel Centre. Click here for tickets or call 306.975.8844 to book your group night or experience package!