Part of the Cold Lake Ice’s success this year could be their homegrown talent.
Winners of five of their first seven games, Cold Lake is set to play the Vermilion Tigers and host the Wainwright Bisons on Saturday. When fans are coming to the rink, they’re seeing a team with only a couple players that aren’t from the Lakeland area.
“We’ve got out of 23 kids, we have 21 local kids from the area and it’s nice to have that,” coach Scott Hood told After Hours with Michael Menzies. “That helps sponsors, it helps parents, it helps fans when they see all these kids they know or they work at their place. It’s so easy to come to the rink every night when you have good kids and local kids and at that.”
Led by captain Cold Laker Noah Cook, the Ice have lots of leadership with 20 and 21-year-old veteran NEAJBHL players. Scott Thackeray leads the team in points with seven, while Devon McCormack is off the team lead with 6, and Dustin Johnson-Watson with a perfect 3-0 record between the pipes.
Josh Butt, Christian Foisy, and Jaden van Maarion have all come in as 17-year-olds and earned regulars spots on the team as well.
“They’re all good kids who want to work and learn and get better, so it’s nice to have the Noah’s [Cook] the Dustin’s [Johnston-Watson], the Scotties [Thackeray] the Devin’s [McCormack] that keep these guys alive and kind of just help out too. They are younger and the league’s a grown man league, so it’s nice to have that good leadership,” said Hood.
Only one opponent has bested the Ice: the Killam Wheat Kings in two matchups, a 4-1 home loss, and 3-0 road defeat, who are tied with 10 points at the top of the standings.
The Wainwright Bisons and St. Paul Canadiens are tied with 8 points, which means the NEAJBHL is seemingly wide open, meaning any team can beat anybody if they show up that night.
“That’s the nice part, you want to be in every game you play. Hard work will keep us in a lot of these games and when we played Killam last two weekends in a row, and they outscored us 7-1 in two games, but that’s not that bad. We played well, you have to work hard and there’s your measuring stick,” said Hood.
“We got a good test this weekend with Wainwright coming in. Vermilion is a hard working team, so you’re right, no game is easy. Obviously if we battle hard and win two games we’re 7-2 and things look a little different.”
The St. Paul Canadiens will travel to play the Killam Wheat Kings Friday night. The Lac La Biche Clippers go to Lloydminster on Saturday, who the Canadiens will visit on Sunday. Wainwright plays Vermilion on Sunday as well.