Colemans Westen Kings coach Angus Head runs practice at the Pepsi Centre on Wednesday. â Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
CORNER BROOK Angus Head has no problems with the effort of his players given it was considered a rebuilding year for the defending champions.
The Colemans Western Kings, under coach Head, have a solid lock on third place in the five-team provincial major midget hockey league with a 10-8-2 record at the Christmas break.
âWeâre solidly in third spot and I think right now itâs just a matter of them getting focused about it as opposed to anything because I think weâve proven we can beat anybody when we put our mind to it,ââHead said Wednesday before the team assembled for its regular Wednesday practice in Corner Brook.
The western boys won the provincial crown last year by defeating long-time defending champion St. Johnâs Privateers. But, the landscape of the provincial league has changed this year with the Kings losing star players like Neil Woolfrey, David Budgell, Ian Skinner and Daniel McCarthy who graduated with a championship ring.
The Kings have a number of new faces getting a taste of the game at a high level, and even the powerful Privateers are going through some challenges with player personnel as they enter the Christmas break in fourth place with a 5-14-1-0 record at the holiday break.
Head is fully aware of the challenges that the new players experience in their first taste of major midget hockey.
âI guess maturity has a lot to do with it,â he said. âWe got a lot of first-year players and they donât really realize it until it starts to sinks in.â
During the holidays, traditionally, players wearing the Kings jersey spread some holiday cheer with regular practice sessions and a game or two with current and former Kings players who return from the mainland for the holidays battling it out in good spirit.
It is Headâs hope that graduates like Budgell and the boys get in the ear of some of the new players to give them some insight into whatâs ahead and share the experience of the championship run in their last year of eligibility.
âThey know what it took last year and they know how much commitment they had to put into it,ââhe said. âIâm hoping they can get it to sink in to the guys that you donât just put on a pair of skates. You have to be devoted to it and be willing to pay a sacrifice for it.â
The Kings will have some free time to spend with family and friends, but early January brings them the Ice Jam major midget tournament in Halifax with the top teams in Atlantic Canada providing the opposition and then itâs on with the playoff round and quest for a repeat.
Coach Head had some simple advice for the boys over the holidays.
âThey know whatâs coming anyway, but Iâtold them they have to stay in the conditioning they are in now,â he said.