The dynasty that is The Cold Lake Ice will lace up and hit the ice Friday in St. Paul for the Northeast Alberta Jr B Hockey League season opener versus Lakeland rivals, The Canadiens. Head Coach Scott Hood says the team is prepared for tomorrow’s match-up.
The team decided to only play one exhibition game during the pre-season to focus on practice and team fundamentals rather than travel and games, Coach Hood says the game versus Lloydminster gave him a good idea of how to shape the team from there, “we got a chance to look at some guys, we didn’t have as big of a line-up back then, but now we have some more guys in.”
Adding to the rooster definitely helps the team, “we can pick and choose who’ll play, we’ll have some guys sitting out Friday.” The team has already thinned out the rooster some, explains Hood, “we’ve already let go two kids, there will be a few more.” The players will have a chance to prove themselves over the next few weeks, “once we see the whites in their eyes and we know they’re here, we’ll see who’s ready to play.”
There are returning players to the team, some of those vets satellite in, one lives in Calgary who will be getting to town tonight and two others are in Edmonton and will be able to make it when they can, explains Hood.
The team hits the ice twice a week for practices and fits in what they can, “these guys have other commitments, but as long as they’re putting in their time and coming to practice twice a week, we’re fine,” explains Hood. The team will be focusing on the new coach’s philosophies and systems as they head into the season, “I understand it’s not going to happen overnight. I told them I’m going to be reiterating and reiterating every time, every practice, ’til it comes naturally to them.”
Hood brought in the assistant coaches to the Ice when he took the lead, these are guys he trusts and can work with, Shawn Coles and Ron Trembley. “Shawn has been involved in minor hockey for a number of years. I’ve coached him and he’s coach my daughter. He brings a different dimension to the team, he’s a good guy to have on board,” says Hood, “Ron played Jr B with Saddle Lake and Lac La Biche, many moons ago when I played. He’s been a good help, as well.”
The Ice have three games on the road over the next week (St. Paul Friday, Vegreville Saturday and Saddle Lake next Wednesday), before their home opener on Friday, October 9th. “It’s not to start on the road. We’re having a big meeting with the boys tonight about what our expectations are. Obviously, our goal is to go 3 and 0 for these road games. Also, using them as exhibition games to fine tone some of our lines and see if we’re ready. We play a high-skilled, very systematized game.”
As for Friday’s game, Coach Hood says he doesn’t concern himself too much with what the other team is doing; he tries to focus on his team and what they’re doing, “we gotta worry about what we have and what we do. We’re a hard working team.” Game time is 8:00 pm at the Clancy Richard Arena in St. Paul