The North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League is back this weekend.
The Cold Lake Ice, who finished 5th in league standings and lost to the St. Paul Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, return to Imperial Oil Place on Saturday night against the Vermilion Tigers.
In preparation for the season, the Ice travelled to Fort St. John for a pair of exhibition games.
It worked as a way for the 25 players to come together in a short amount of time.
“That’s why we did it. There’s a guy played against coaches up there and and reached out the last few years. It just worked out this year and hopefully returning the favor for them coming out here next year,” said coach Scott Hood.
“They are such a great team to play against and pushed us. The guys know that’s what we want to mold yourself after. So we’re working on a bit of that stuff here. The last couple weeks we’ve had three practices a week for the last three weeks.”
Hood said the Ice training camp had over 30 kids vying for spots on the team.
Local players from Cold Lake, Bonnyville, Loon Lake, Pierceland, Elk Point, will be on this year’s team, said Hood.
He said the team is striving for an identity in 2019-20.
“That was nice to see for the first time in five years, we actually had to make some decisions right out the gate.
“[We’re talking about] Speed. Hard work. Relentless. That’s what we’ve used quite a bit. Just don’t stop. That’s what we want to do. We want to we want to put the pressure on teams.”
The Ice will be without former assistant coach Ron Tremblay who has taken over the head coaching duties with the Lac La Biche Clippers.
Those two teams will meet in the Ice’s second game of the season.
“Ron was a big part of the four years I was here. He was a little worried about what I think, I said no, go do it. It’s good experience for him. he’ll have some fun, he’s from around that area, and knows a lot of those kids. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the second game of the season,” said Hood.
With the Frog Lake T-Birds folding this season, each of the eight teams in the league will make the playoffs, said Hood.
“You want to be competitive every night. And it’s consistency. I mean, it could change so we just gonna take one game at a time. I know it sounds cliche, but we’re gonna try and get better each game.”