Aw…early times for the 2019-20 Chase HEAT. With the 2 game exhibition weeks behind 30 plus players, its time for the weeding out and selection of 25 athletes that will start with the team for the regular season.
Head Coach Brad Fox took on the role of scientist, formulating defence pairings, mixing up trios of offensive lines and researching solutions for fighting off black puck disease from reaching deep into our own net. Analyzing talent, skills, effort, fitness, hockey IQ, strength, speed, grit, endurance and attitude, just a few of the necessities of a successful concoction that make the community happy and proud.
There is no guarantee of ever achieving the perfect remedy, but the multitude of experiments and the initial roster are the first step. Going forward 175 pounds of “won’t listen” gets replaced by 200 pounds of 6’3” “power forward”. 5’9” of “defensive liability” from B.C. is exchanged for 5’9” of “stay at home d man” from Alberta. Cuts from the Junior A ranks in Western Canada are mixed in and replace veterans and rookies. The hardest part of life for the Coach is shipping out a “great kid” because “we gotta get better”. Some replacements work out, some don’t, and some traded players achieve success with other teams, potentially in other leagues. It is sometimes a teenager’s first look at how unfair things can appear, a hard knock in life, and it happens with 20 teams in the KIJHL all season long.
It’s early, the leadership group of Cam Watson, Evan Hughes and Brett Alexander are back, and will be joined by a new Assistant Captain. Last year’s vast number of rookies is now part of the veteran group, the group is older, bigger and more mature. The chosen new bunch of rookies will learn and develop from the examples of the vets and the instruction of the staff. Brad Fox has outlined early that it won’t be easy, hard work, effort and consistency will be rewarded.
Everything always looks good at this point before the puck drops for the regular season of the KIJHL. The HEAT open at home this Friday the 13th versus the North Okanagan KNIGHTS. Game time is 7:00 pm at the Art Holding Memorial Arena. Saturday night the 14th the team land cruises west to Kamloops to face the STORM at Memorial Arena. The proof of the early experiments will be known in the weeks ahead. A good dose of fan support will provide encouragement and add to the excitement and entertainment. See you at the rink!