By Dale Cory
They’ve been a playoff team every year since rejoining the Heritage Junior Hockey League for the 2007-2008 season.
But the Rimbey Rock has yet to win a post-season game in eight tries, getting bounced from the playoffs in straight games every year.
Darren May plans to reverse that trend.
May is the new head coach of the Rock, who take to the ice for the first time Sept. 7 when training camp gets underway in Sylvan Lake. May coached minor hockey for 17 years, and, when the position came open, there was no doubt in his mind he wanted the opportunity to take Rimbey’s junior B hockey team to the next level, and become championship contenders.
“I jumped at it. This was something I wanted to do. I played junior B hockey in Rimbey and have lived in the community my whole life. I want to see the team succeed from a community standpoint, not just from the team’s standpoint,” says May, who offers up his coaching philosophy. “I’m kind of old fashioned. I want to see hard work, lots of skating and lots of speed. I call it an in-your-face style of game. I want to see our guys continually putting pressure on the other team, so all our decisions have to be fast.”
May believes he can bring a refreshing mindset to the organization that will rub off on the players.
“No one will outwork me, and I expect that work ethic out of the kids,” insists May. “I’m a pretty fair coach. If guys give me everything they’ve got, then they will benefit with ice time.”
May expects upwards of 10 players returning to the Rock, although a realistic number is seven to eight, with a few players holding onto a wait-and-see attitude.
“A couple of players are still on the fence, and we’re trying to convince them to give us a month so we can show them what we are all about,” says May, who understands how tough it is to keep local players in a Rock uniform considering the success teams in proximity to Rimbey have enjoyed in recent years. “It’s a problem we have to deal with. These kids sometimes go to Blackfalds or Red Deer because those teams have been strong over the years. Guys often work there as well, and want to stay there and play.”
However, he has been encouraged by commitments from two players he expects to lead the Rock this season.
“Justin Lawson is back. He’s one of our more-skilled forwards. He’s a 20-year-old. That’s the year they really feel comfortable and strong,” explained May. “Ryan Link will be back. He’s a good solid defensive defenceman who moves the puck well.”
May says he would be disappointed if fewer than 30 players show up for training camp next week.
Rock ‘n roll…May will have Rock hopefuls on the ice at the Medican Multiplex in Sylvan Lake Tuesday, Sept. 7 from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Sept. 8 from 9:45 p.m. to 11:15 p.m.
The Rock will face Blackfalds in their first exhibition game Friday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.
For more information on the Rock, call coach May at 403-350-9774, or general manager Rick Pankiw at 403-783-9878, or check out: www.eteamz.com/rimbeyrock