The Williams Lake Stampeders battled the Quesnel Kangaroos in Round Two of the CIHL playoffs in the spring. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The Williams Lake Stampeders battled the Quesnel Kangaroos in Round Two of the CIHL playoffs in the spring. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Morale is high as Williams Lake Stampeders head into 2022-23 season

Hockey team has some new blood but strong lineup of veteran players

Williams Lake Stampeder’s head coach Cody Tent is heading into his second season behind the bench with the team, and he’s optimistic about the 2022-23 season.

“We’ve got a lot of returning players, a lot of familiar faces from last year. They were all a part of the group that made the push at the end and really got us hot before the playoffs,” said Tent.

The team ended their last season with an eight-game winning streak leading into the playoffs.

“We’ve got a lot of speed, a lot of talent up front and at the back end with our goaltending, we’ve got very good goaltending so we’re really happy about that.”

He called goaltenders Ryan Balbirnie and Willie Sellars two of the very best in the league.

Open tryouts for the team take place Tuesday and Thursday nights in September, and it is a community effort to find new players.

“A lot of conversations at the rink,” described Tent as the team’s recruitment strategy. This is how he ended up behind the bench.

“It’s kind of a nice thing that keeps you in the locker room.”

Tent was actually brought on board for the 2020-21 season, which was cancelled due to Covid, but he’s happy to be back for another season after the team ended last season on such a high.

“Right then it was a lot of fun … it was a lot of fun to be in the locker room so when they asked me if I was going to do it again it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Tent.

The players mostly fall within the late twenties to thirty-one age group, said 29-year-old Tent, who grew up playing with many of them.

But the age range of the team spans from about 18 to 39 years old, according to Tent, who said their roster holds about 30 players, and the team that shows up is the one who plays, as senior men’s hockey players have to adjust around their jobs and families as well.

“That stuff comes first and we understand that,” explained Tent, whose day job is managing Taylor Automotive.

The team has played one game already, and while they lost to Quesnel, he isn’t worried.

“When we do have our best lineup on the ice, we’re going to be a really hard hockey team to beat. I think everyone in that room feels the same way.”

With morale running high after their strong finish last season, fans are likely to see an enthusiastic team hit the ice at home for their first home game Nov. 12. The Stamps face off against Terrace Saturday night and play Kitimat at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13 as well.

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