A new coach has been hired to put the Ponoka Stampeders junior B hockey team on a winning streak.
Mark Dobler, 45, of Airdrie, saw an ad on the Hockey Alberta website that the Stampeders were looking for a new coach. He accepted the position in June and has been spending two to three hours per day planning out his training year. “Kind of like a teacher putting together a yearly curriculum…It just makes it easier for everybody.”
Travel to and from games won’t to be an issue either, — Dobler has already purchased new studded tires to deal with icy roads.
“The 1½ hours going to the rink gives me a chance to think,” he added.
He has spent 41 years of his life in hockey rinks — whether playing professionally in Europe or coaching the Airdrie Thunder in the ’90s, Dobler loves the sport. He remembers watching the Stampeders last season and enjoys the challenge of bringing the team up after a record of 1-1-36.
“I saw the talent was there,” said Dobler.
His goal this season is to get back to the basics of the sport and keep things simple.
“There’s a lot of things in the game of hockey that coaches try to make complicated.”
Keeping the centre ice closed will lessen their opponents chance to score as well. Dobler does not want to miss opportunities to score either. He feels there were missed chances last year and he hopes to rectify that.
He hopes to bring his experience coaching junior B and midget AAA to the table and get players winning. Dobler feels if he is confident then his players will be too.
“Then we trust each other. We’re all on the same page,” he stated.
Dobler signed with the Stampeders for one year but if things go well he intends to stay.
He feels the fact that the team has their own dressing room and the rink is in decent shape is a benefit to the organization.
“A lot of it is changing the culture in the dressing room but it also is changing the culture in the organization,” he said.
If the team does well, more people come to games.
Tryouts are Sept. 7 and 8 at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex and Dobler intends to start training immediately.
“For me to get ahead of some of these other teams I have to start teaching my systems, my plans right away,” he explained.
Anyone interested in joining the team should contact manager Willie Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.