The Aldergrove Kodiaks got their preparations for another PIJHL campaign underway Wednesday, Sept. 5 with a 5-3 exhibition win at over the Richmond Sockeyes. General manager Rick Harkins said it was an auspicious way to start the year.
“It was our first exhibition of the season and we got a win, so that was nice,” he said.
Harkins said beating the Sockeyes was impressive, as the Kodiaks haven’t been able to practice much on ice over the summer, while Richmond has access to ice throughout the summer months at Minoru arena.
“Richmond’s been practicing since May; they have ice all year,” he said. “To compete with them’s a great sign.”
The win was assisted by an impressive crowd at Aldergrove Community Arena, which Harkins said is emblematic of how much support the Kodiaks have locally.
“It was a full house, which was great,” Harkins said. “Our team’s about the community and the community comes out with us.”
The Kodiaks are coming off a season in which they won their conference, and Harkins said they’ll be even better in some respects this time around.
“Our overall quickness is improved, our defence is better,” he said.
There may be some growing pains, though, as they have an extremely young team. Harkins said their youngsters have a tremendous amount of talent, though, and the roster would look even more youthful if it wasn’t for the league’s limit of two 16-year-olds per team.
“If we weren’t limited to two, we’d be even younger,” he said.
There are plenty of new faces on this year’s Kodiaks, and they have substantial potential. Harkins said one player in particular for fans to keep an eye on is rookie forward Jackson Waniek.
“We’re impressed with Jackson Waniek,” Harkins said. “It looks like he’ll be one to watch.”
Harkins said the team’s play in that win over Richmond bodes well for their chances this season.
“It was an indication we should have a good year,” he said.
Still, he’s more concerned with developing his players to reach their full potential than he is with wins and losses. “We measure our success in how many kids we move on (to higher leagues).”
The Kodiaks lost the other exhibition game 4-2 in Richmond Saturday.