By Jasmine Franklin
Although the season didn’t go as planned for players and management of Ponoka’s junior B Stampeders hockey team, hopes for next season remain high.
“We realized this year would be a rebuilding year,” said coach and general manager Randy Rook. “But we really gave it a good run.”
There was a game re-scheduling mix-up, and Rook said the team should have made it into the playoffs instead of the Rimbey Rock. The Stampeders won two of the three games they needed to make it into the playoffs but without the make-up game, they fell short.
“We never got a chance to play a game that was cancelled against Mountainview in October,” Rook said. “Because of that, when the league was calculating the winning percentage they took our six wins into 36 games rather than what should have been 35. We tried to re-schedule, but nothing was ever set up.”
“It took our players a long time to jell together with all the illness, injuries and new players. Getting them to know they have to play with a system to win was half the work. A well-designed, disciplined system is needed to win,” Rook said. “But once they realized that they could win, they really started to play well.”
For the 2010/2011 hockey season, Rook is hoping to see 75 to 100 players for the hockey camp, giving the team a wider selection of players to choose from.
“We have a core of about eight to 10 players now that will be back next year,” he said. “I honestly believe the Stampeders will be middle of the pack in the league for 2010/2011 to do some damage. We will be good to go.”
There is one aspect of this year’s hockey season, however, Rook would like to see improve next year.
“I would like to see a lot more support from the community of Ponoka,” he said. “Come out and support this team. There is nothing more uplifting for the players then to look up and see packed stands.”
Rook said managers from different teams commented on the team’s turn-around, along with their hard work and improvement.
The last game the Stampeders played was Feb. 14 where they crushed the Banff Academy Bears 10–2.