Stampeders players work on drills Sept. 3 during the team’s conditioning camp weekend.

Ponoka Stampeders gear up for 2017-18 season

A mix of new recruits and returning players expected to make up the roster

The Ponoka Stampeders are gearing up for the 2017-18 hockey season.

A series of camps were held last weekend for the team and for those hoping to be picked. It’s a time to tighten the muscles and get the players back into a hockey mentality, explained coach Matt Williams.

The weekend was all hockey with players taking to the ice for hours at a time, he explained. Along with a couple scrimmages and drills there was also a team game.

“We’re easing into things. We’re kind of throwing a lot at them right away so that they can get the legs moving and get that blood pumping,” explained Williams.

He pointed out this is a different team from last year and he wants the players to see that. There were roughly 40 players at the camp but not everyone can get a position.

“We’re planning on taking 25 of those kids through to our first exhibition game,” said Williams.

“We’re going to give the guys as much experience and exposure as possible.”

He expects to have a full team picked by the first regular game of the season set for Sept. 22.

“The biggest thing this team needs is basically a fresh start,” said Williams.

Along with about 15 returning players, he feels the new recruits will be able to jump right in. For Williams it will be a time of learning for him and players.

“They’ve been through a lot this group. They’ve got a really solid foundation. Now they just need a little bit of coaching,” he added.

“It’s going to be an adjustment period for them and myself.”

He feels both sides will have to earn the respect of each other but when that happens the team has some strong potential.

Another event he’s pleased about is seeing 74 kids signed up for the recreation hockey camp, which is hosting conditioning for all teams from novice and atom up to bantam and midget.

There’s a special exhibition game set for Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. Williams says he looks forward to the season and for the community support.

“This week’s going to be all about fun and learning.”

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Stampeders’ coach Matt Williams speaks with players at the team’s conditioning camp Sept. 3. The team is in the process of picking players for the 2017-18 season. Photos by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

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