Chiefs looking to reload for the season
Aug 27, 2012 / 3:30 pm
Hockey season returned for the Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League on Monday morning.
While summer still reigned supreme outside, for the roughly 60 players taking part in the first day of training camp for the Chiefs, the focus was all on the ice at Rutland Arena.
The same could be said for Head Coach Ken Andrusiak, as he and his coaching staff prepare to get their first look at some of the players who will carry the team in the new season.
After being swept in the league final by the Beaver Valley Nighthawks, the club is anxious to build on last year's playoff success.
"We should have nine, maybe 10 guys back from last year's team, including our top goaltender, so I think we'll be pretty solid," says Andrusiak.
The team looks set on the back end with as many as five returning defencemen to compliment the veteran goaltending.
However, there is a gap to fill up front as he prepares for his third season at the helm.
"We have to find somebody to score some goals because we lost, to graduation, both (Dane) Rupert and Landon (Andrusiak). Between those two guys, they had well over 200 points, including playoffs. To me, that's our biggest hole."
Andrusiak hopes that he'll find some of those goals from a younger player who steps up.
"Every year there's somebody...some kid that nobody knows about bursts on the scene and is a player. I'm sure that will happen this year, too," says Andrusiak.
"An 18 year-old discovers how to play. When he's 16 and 17 he doesn't quite understand how to play even though their skills are about the same. Maturity makes a better player."
The players will have just three days to make an impression, as the 60 skaters will be quickly pared down to 25 by Wednesday night.
Those who survive will then get a chance to show their stuff in an exhibition game in Summerland August 30.
The Chiefs will play their first pre-season game at home September 4 against the North Okanagan Knights.
They will open the regular season in Summerland September 14 and then return to the Rutland Arena for their home opener the next night against Fernie.
For ticket information, visit the Kelowna Chief's website.
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