CORNER BROOK After suffering a broken collarbone last season, limiting him to just 15 games, Western Kings’ Neil Woolfrey is looking forward to a fresh start.
The 17-year-old Corner Brook native, now a third-year player with the Kings, is excited about the possibilities the new Provincial Major Midget Hockey League campaign will bring when it kicks off this weekend.
The Kings will host the Central IcePak for games at 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening and at 10 a.m. Sunday morning at the Kinsmen Arena II.
“We’ve got lots of guys who were on the team last year,” said Woolfrey. “I think it’s going to be a way better team this year.”
His optimism may be founded.
In a pre-season round-robin tournament in mid-September, the Kings posted a league-best 3-0-1 record, including a 7-6 victory over the IcePak.
Woolfrey, the son of Paul and Fern, contributed six goals over the four pre-season games, with his best effort coming against the Tri-Pen Lions, when he lit the lamp four times.
He should be a focal point of the offence going forward, but he’s fast to deflect praise, citing a couple of new additions as important cogs in the Kings machine.
“We’ve got Jordan Kennedy here, which is a big plus,” Woolfrey said. “And we’ve got new rookies coming in like Jordan King. We’ve got some really good players and I think our team is a lot quicker this year.”
Woolfrey, who began his young hockey career in the Timbits division as a five-year-old, said the IcePak gave the Kings perhaps their toughest game of the pre-season tournament, but cautioned it was the club’s first game together.
“It was a slow start for us, but they played way better than we expected,” he said. “Their defence and positioning was really good and they protected their goalie really well.”
Still, owning a victory over them, even one of the pre-season variety, gives the team a little boost of confidence heading into the first weekend that matters.
While the seven goals the team scored has Woolfrey feeling good about their offence, it’s the six goals against that leaves him concerned.
“We’ve got to bear down and make sure we cut down on their shots,” he said. “We need play more defensively and make sure they don’t score so many goals against us.”
After a slow start to the season last year, the Kings would love to jump out of the gates with two victories this weekend.“It’d be awesome,” said Woolfrey. “Last we year didn’t start off too hot, so it’d be really good to start off 2-0.”