Yauheni Lavrov, left, and Anson Smith, right, prepare for the second half of the season. Image supplied.
The Cold Lake Hornets are moving into the second half of their season, looking to move into the third spot in the WSHL provinces division by season-end.
The Hornets returned from the WSHL Vegas Showcase with three losses, two by just one goal.
However, standout players from the team got looked at by NCAA Division III and ACHA schools, which is what the showcase is about, said Bonnyville-native Anson Smith.
“I think it went actually really well. I know me and Z [Yauheni Lavrov] got four school offers together and then separately, I got another three or four and Z got another three or four also, along with a few other guys on our team.
“That’s what the showcase is about. It’s about your personal growth and trying to move on to the next level,” he said.
Lavrov and Smith are the team’s two leading point scorers playing on the Hornets top line this season.
Lavrov, with 41 points in 23 games, is a long way from his home in Stockholm, Sweden though.
“It’s nice here. I like Canadian people, they’re nice…it’s calm and everyone knows each other and it feels like home,” said Lavrov.
“I play an easy game and I’ll try to do my kind of my own stuff and then Steve [Thomson] try to fix my game more like Canadians and Americans do because in Sweden we just kind of glide around a little bit then some culture and don’t go to the net as much.”
New captain Anson Smith said it’s an honour to be named the leader of the team, which happened last week.
He feels there are good things to come for the Hornets after coming a long way since the franchise started.
“It’s definitely a big step in the right direction. I mean, it’s no secret how the Wings went last year, it definitely wasn’t a good year for the team or the city in lots of different aspects,” said Smith who was on last year’s Wings team.
“But we definitely took a big step this year and we’re competing more, the games are better, the games are closer. We’ve won more games and we know that we’re making and trying to make some strides in the community.”
The Hornets sit 4th of five teams with a 6-16-2 record, sitting one point behind the Meadow Lake Mustangs for third place, but losers of seven straight games.
“Our biggest goal right now is to make playoffs slide into third place down will be if that happens, we most likely will be facing Hinton [Timberwolves] come playoff time. That’s actually a series that we believe that we can win and move on to the next one.
“We’re really making some strides in the right direction.”
Smith encourages people to come to the Hornets games and has a message for those skeptical about the league’s Tier II Junior A pay-to-play structure.
“I think people need to look at this league a little bit more intently…there’s the way that Hockey Canada seems to be is that there’s only one route to get to school. I hope that people realize that there are other ways to get there,” he said.
“Like I said, between me and Z, we have 16 college offers and people need to see that. This isn’t just a league to play in and then call it quits after this, this is a league to move you on. It’s a promotional league for development and to get you on to the next level.”