The St. Paul Canadiens opened the season with two huge wins for the club, starting with their home opener, which brought the defending Northeast Alberta Junior B Hockey League (NEAJBHL) Champs, the Cold Lake Ice, to town.
The game against the Ice was an important win for the Canadiens, says Head Coach, Joe Young, “we haven’t beaten them in many years, obviously, that was a nice win for us. They’ve won the league five years in a row, so they’re a very good team. But we’re trending in the right direction, as well. We have a lot of guys who are young, but very competitive and have a lot of energy. That’s one of the main things I like about my hockey team.”
Young took on the Head Coach duties four years back and grew the team from the bottom of the league to a fourth place finish and making playoffs last season. Young says he expected the team to finish even higher this year, “we got a lot of guys that came back from last year and a lot of guys we’ve picked up that’ll be a big help to us.” Including a netminder from Cold Lake, David Rupp. “We’re going in the right direction.”
“Overall, we’ve got the team back to where we’re legit. We can win a game any night, and that’s nice to see.” The Canadiens claimed a home opener victory with an 8-2 finish. Then moved onto Killiam, where the Wheat Kings have traditionally been a little tougher between the boards.
“Killiam is very physical,” explains Young, “especially, when you play them in Killiam. They play a very different game then, say if they would come to St. Paul. They’re very comfortable in their surroundings and probably the most physical team in the league.”
Speed was the winning force against the Wheat Kings, explains the coach, “we have good speed, we use it that night and it was an all-around good hockey game. One of the better hockey games I’ve been a part of in the last couple games.” It was a white knuckle-double-OT-kinds-game, where the Canadiens excelled to a 5-4 win.
The club is headed to Cold Lake tomorrow evening for the Ice’s home opener, Young says his nerves are steady heading into Imperial Oil Place, “we’re a very confident bunch right now. Obviously, [the Ice] are going to have a lot of energy, playing their first game at home, and they’re probably not too happy after the way things went last Friday.” Young says the key to success will be sticking with the plan, “you gotta stick to your game plan and see where the chips fall. We’re confident in what we have here, I think we’ll give them everything we’ve got and more!”
Puck drops at 8:00 pm in Cold Lake at Imperial Oil Place in the Energy Centre.