By Dale Cory
It’s time for the ‘real’ action to begin.
The Rimbey Rock kick off the 2010-2011 Heritage Junior Hockey League regular season Friday, Oct. 1 when they take on the Strathmore Wheatland Kings at Rimbey Arena.
The Rock have been a playoff team every year since rejoining the junior B circuit for the 2007-2008 season, but have yet to win a post season game.
New head coach Darren May, who coached minor hockey for 17 years, jumped at the opportunity to coach the Rock when the position became available, and plans on building a contender.
To accomplish that, he will rely on a returning group of veterans, and trust some of his younger players will mature at a fast rate.
“We will have a good skating club and by all accounts a hard working bunch,” says May. “This better be the case because we are a bit undersized and lacking in high-end skill.”
If there’s one area a coach always wants to feel comfortable with heading into the season, it’s the goaltender position. At this point though, May has yet to determine whom his No. 1 guy will be.
“The goaltending position right now is not set, as we have five goalies in camp with a possibility of two more showing up before the season begins,” he says. “So no, we do not have a No. 1. I envision that battle to go on for a while yet.”
On defence, May will count on returning blueliners Ryan Link, Darren Kinnear and Jackson Jones. Carter Wizniak, who played with the Rock two years ago, is also back in Rimbey. May expects this group to shoulder a lot of the workload while three of his young recruits gain valuable junior B experience and push for playing time.
Up front, May appears to have a core group that can put the puck in the net.
“Our forwards’ workload will fall directly on five returning players — Justin Lawson, Ryan Petrie, Joesph Schropfer, Connor Sibbet and Dillon Adrian. Another year under their belt will help them improve from last year’s numbers,” believes May. “We have a new player from Caroline, Mitch Stange, who is a well rounded player, and a bunch of others still fighting for jobs.”
May knows winning a championship in the HJHL will not come easy, but believes his group will provide a challenge for the powerhouse teams in Red Deer and Blackfalds, and will entertain Rimbey fans.
“If our players our ready to commit to the team and out work other teams we will do fine and be an exiting team to watch,” says May.
Rock ‘n roll… The Rock and Strathmore will face-off at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Rimbey Arena.