Rick Harkins is busily putting all the pieces of the puzzle together for a new season of Junior B Hockey in Aldergrove.
The Aldergrove Kodiaks will hit the ice on Wednesday, Sept. 9 for their home opener against the Mission City Outlaws and “we’ll be competitive,” promised Harkins.
Harkins, who is stepping up to the plate in the dual capacity of general manager and head coach this year, says the Kodiaks will probably be a younger set of rookies this year, although that may change if more of the last season players return after the Junior A camps finish up this week.
However, both of last year’s outstanding goalies, Ben Giesbrecht and Baillie Griffin have moved up north, with Giesbrecht playing in Olds, Alberta and Griffin in Invermere.
“We have five or six goalies trying out and we have a bunch of rookies but we can’t card them all yet because we don’t know for sure who is coming back,” said Harkins.
“On the upside, it’s a good chance for us to see if the kids are capable of playing at this level.”
Three forwards are definitely returning — Eric Callegari, Brandon Dolby and Quinncy Leroux — along with last year’s team captain, Aaron Markin. Josh Poitras is also back on the team this season, along with new defenceman Elijah Vilio, from Aldergrove.
Harkins is also seeing promise in several major midget forwards who he has signed, Kaelen Anderson and Ryleigh Anderson (no relation) both of Langley, and Erik Bocale of Surrey.
Chase Manderville (of New Westminster) and Davin Padgham (Chilliwack) are also signed for d-man duties. Two other rookie forwards are Kyle Bosko (Mission) and David Stickney (Langley).
The Kodiaks lost their first two exhibition games, a 5-0 loss to Mission on August 15 and a 4-1 loss to Grandview Steelers on Aug. 22. The Kodiaks return to play the Steelers this Sunday in their final exhibition game.
“Mission has a lot of veterans returning, eight or nine of them, and they will be tough to beat this season. But in the game against the Steelers we were down 4-0 in the first period before our boys stepped up and outplayed them in the second and third periods for the 4-1 loss.”
The Kodiaks are practicing at Langley’s Sportsplex on Wednesday nights until the Aldergrove Arena ice is ready for play.
“We’ve been promised first ice at Aldergrove no later than Sept. 8, and I can hardly wait.”
In addition to the club’s valued volunteers, Harkins will be assisted by assistant coach Tavis Eaton, associate coach Kevin Persson, regional scout and assistant coach Trevin Sewell, head scout and assistant manager Rick Long, strength and conditioning coach Chris Price and goaltending coach Kevin Currie.
Game dates for September:
Wed., Sept. 9, 7:15 p.m. Mission City Outlaws at Aldergrove Kodiaks, Aldergrove Community Arena;
Fri., Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m. Aldergrove Kodiaks at Abbotsford Pilots, MSA Arena;
Wed., Sept. 16, 7:15 p.m. Ridge Meadows Flames at Aldergrove Kodiaks, Aldergrove Community Arena;
Sat., Sept. 19, 6:45 p.m. Aldergrove Kodiaks at Mission City Outlaws, Mission Leisure Centre;
Tue., Sept. 22, 7:35 p.m. Aldergrove Kodiaks at Delta Ice Hawks, Ladner Leisure Centre;
Wed., Sept. 23, 7:15 p.m. Grandview Steelers at Aldergrove Kodiaks, Aldergrove Community Arena;
Mon., Sept. 28, 7:00 p.m. Aldergrove Kodiaks at Langley Knights, George Preston Recreation Centre;
Wed., Sept. 30, 7:15 p.m. Port Moody Panthers at Aldergrove Kodiaks, Aldergrove Community Arena.