2023-2024 was a historic year for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Warriors would defeat the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League finals to capture the team’s first WHL championship. The Warriors would get to the finals following an entertainingly historic all-Saskatchewan East Final against the Saskatoon Blades. That series required 7 games, with 6 of them needing overtime to determine a winner – a modern-day WHL record.

Following the WHL Championship, the Moose Jaw Warriors attended the franchise’s first-ever Memorial Cup in May where they would fall in the semi-finals to the eventual winner and host Saginaw Spirit.

Pavel Mckenzie, a product of Cumberland House Cree Nation, played forward for the Warriors throughout the 2023-24 season.

He spoke with MBC Radio News about his experience.

“It was a crazy year,” said Mckenzie. “Just being able to play in so many different rinks was amazing. It was an awesome year, we had our ups and downs, but we never stopped working.”

He shared a comeback against Swift Current being down 6-1 and a game in the playoffs against the Saskatoon Blades when the Warriors forced overtime after going down 4-0 as some of his highlights from the year.

“Being able to see the boys not give up and come back in the third period was pretty cool to watch and be a part of,” he said.

Mckenzie also reflected on the series with Saskatoon Blades saying it was “crazy” and there were a few players he was getting “sick of” by the end.

“I’m glad we came out with the win and to do it in Saskatoon in game 7 was awesome, as I had a ton of family there that night to watch.”

He says he is still “soaking in” winning the WHL Championship.

“I still can’t believe I helped win a WHL championship,” he said. “I don’t even know how to explain the feeling.”

As for the Memorial Cup, McKenzie says there was a moment when they were playing the London Knights where he had to pause and reflect.

“I was sitting on the bench and I couldn’t believe I was playing at the Memorial Cup. A lot of big names have played here. I honestly couldn’t believe I was playing in there and it was a huge honour to be there.”

McKenzie put up 15 goals and 21 assists for a total of 36 points in 63 games played for the Warriors during the regular season. The Cumberland House product also added 2 goals and 3 assists during the playoff run.

He will be returning to the WHL and the Moose Jaw Warriors for the 2024-25 season.

(Photo courtesy the CHL)