For the first time this year, the Regina Pats will get to suit up with their leader this weekend.
Captain Colby Williams will return to the team’s blue line on Friday night against the Red Deer Rebels after missing the entire season to date because of an arm injury he suffered in the off-season.
“It’s been a tough, slow road. It’s finally coming to an end and a new beginning. I’m pretty excited to get going,” said Williams.
Just before the season began, the 20-year-old defenceman and reigning player of the year, was named captain.
Friday’s game will actually mark the first time Williams will get to skate onto the ice during a game as the team’s captain. It’s a moment the hometown product has been waiting quite a while for.
“It’s obviously an honour when I got named captain a while back. It’s kind of tough to take it all in when you’re not on the ice. There’s only so much you can do when you’re not there,” he said. “I’m glad to be back and it’s definitely an honour to be wearing that for the first time.”
Getting the leader back is good for the team both on and off the ice.
“I think we’re looking forward to knowing there’s a little bit more self-accountability in the room that the coaches don’t have worry about,” said head coach John Paddock.
The return of Williams comes at a good time for the Pats, as Connor Hobbs remains out of the lineup due to an injury he suffered a couple of weekends ago.
As long as this road has been for Williams to return, it could have been much longer. He could have been out until sometime in the new year.
“I kind of set my sights on the first week of November. I know that was a little high but I tried to get back as soon as I could,” he said.
Even though the star defenceman is returning the lineup, don’t expect the same Williams that played an incredible amount of minutes late last season and into the playoffs. Paddock says it will take him some time to get back into form after missing all of training camp and the season to date.
“We better make sure we’re not expecting the Colby Willliams that played about 45 minutes in Brandon out of 65 minutes last April,” said Paddock.
“He’s a player (that’s) coming back in. We know he’s a good player and we know he’s going to be better two-to-three weeks from now than he is right now.”
Puck drop for the Pats and Rebels on Friday night is at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre. The Pats remain home this weekend to host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon.