Hockey fans, rejoice.
If you’ve been dying to watch some competitive hockey this year the Central Interior Hockey League teams locally hope to fill that void when they launch into their 2012/13 regular season starting this Saturday with the Williams Lake Stampeders visiting the Lac la Hache Tomahawks.
The CIHL East Division rivals will both be looking to test the waters in their first games back in action. Both teams have made some roster changes, some players have switched teams and some new faces have been added.
All of this, said Stampeders general manager Kelly Kohlen, should make for an interesting season.
In preparation for the regular season games the Stampeders practiced throughout September.
Kohlen said the team’s core, including players like Aaron Zurak, Nathan Zurak, Francis Johnson, Stu Sasges, Jared Kohlen, Dino Lecomte and Brent McIsaac, is still intact. He added there will be some new faces suiting up this year for the Stampeders.
“We’ve got a few new additions,” he said. “We’ve got a guy, John Woodyard, and then Dusty Garnett, and we’ve got a couple local boys — Ryley Seibert and David DeBeer — and we’re still waiting for a couple guys.”
One player who could be joining the Stampeders this season should be familiar to Williams Lake hockey fans as Kohlen said former Williams Lake Timberwolf Justin Bardarson has expressed interest in suiting up for the club.
Back between the pipes this year for Williams Lake is former league MVP Justin Foote. Backing him up will be Duncan Peeman and newcomer Owen Sutton.
“We’re just waiting for his release from Vanderhoof [the Omineca Ice],” Kohlen said.
“I think as the season goes we’ll get stronger, barring injuries.”
Tomahawk’s coach Al Navrot said they will be heading into Saturday night’s battle at the Rolf Zeis Memorial Arena completely focused.
“It’ll be interesting to see what they’ve got and how we stack up against them,” Navrot said. “I think we’ll be pretty evenly matched but it’s hard to predict. It’s never a good thing to be cocky, though.”
Kohlen also said he thinks the two clubs should put together a solid hockey game.
“From what I’ve heard from their tryouts I think it should be a fairly close game,” Kohlen said.
“We just need to get everybody to play together and get to know each other. There’s a little bit of a change this year but we’ve still got our core group of guys.”
Following the Oct. 6 matchup with the Tomahawks the Stampeders return home for a seven-game homestand.
Williams Lake will play its home opener on Oct. 13 against the Kitimat Ice Demons at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex starting at 7:30 p.m. followed by a meeting with the Prince Rupert Rampage Oct. 14 at 1:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game against the Tomahawks starts at 7:30 p.m.