WINNIPEG —; Playing for the home team has its perks. Even more so when home is home.
“It’s a change,” Manitoba Moose forward Kelly Zajac said. “I’ve never been home at this time.”
Zajac has a little more joy and cheer this year. The Winnipegger was signed by the Moose last month meaning he’s now suiting up in his old stomping grounds.
“I haven’t played in my hometown since midget hockey,” Zajac said. “It’s been a long journey and it’s brought me back here which is special.”
Especially since he’ll get to spend the festive season with family for the first time in ten years.
“Hopefully we can hit the outdoor rinks like we used to back in the day growing up,” said Zajac.
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But he’s the only member of the Moose who’s home for the holidays.
“It’s always hard to be away from home,” said Moose defenceman Peter Stoykewych.
The Winnipeg born has been babysitting the blueline in his own back yard after six seasons away. But he’s not quite decking the halls at his own house.
“I’ve moved back in so it’s a little different,” said Stoykewych.
The 23-year-old is crashing at his parent’s pad – what he calls a place of comfort and cheer.
“The guys (on the team) give me a hard time,” said Stoykewych. “They’re actually jealous that I get to come home to home cooked meals every night.”
Even though the players say it wasn’t fun missing out on the merry moments, they didn’t quite have silent nights. Stoykewych and Zajac would instead celebrate Christmas abroad with their second family.
“You’re able to be around teammates and usually find somewhere to spend those holidays with guys you’re close to,” said Zajac.
This year, they get the best of both worlds.
MOOSE MORSELS: Manitoba has sent forward Axel Blomqvist down to the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers. Blomqvist had seven shots and two penalty minutes in 10 games with the Moose this season. He was signed to a three-year entry level contract by the Winnipeg Jets in October.
The Moose have also inked forward Darren Kramer to an AHL contract – an upgrade from his professional tryout agreement he had with the team. Kramer has one assist and 31 penalty minutes in 13 games this year.