Despite a one-sided loss last Friday, this could be a good season for the Lacombe Pee Wee A Rockets.
On Oct. 11, Lacombe lost 6-1 against Stettler in an exhibition game to determine league tiers for the season. While the scoreboard was not in Lacombe’s favour, coach Darryl Armitage said that the team still showed some promise during the game.
“The first two periods we didn’t really get our legs going,” said Armitage. “I think we outplayed (Stettler) in the third period.”
Armitage added that, in addition to the Rockets’ slow start on Friday night, a short bench also contributed to the loss.
In fact, Armitage said the team needed to scramble in order to find a goalie as both the team’s regular goalies were away.
Being short a few players also makes more of a difference early in the season. Once the players get to know each other better and get used to playing with each other, being down one or two players won’t affect the team much, he added.
The players seem to be coming together quite nicely. Armitage reported excellent chemistry within the dressing room and that the team is “gelling” together. Another strength the team will have is skating, said Armitage.
Skating was one talent that the Rockets did display in their game against Stettler, especially in the third period and is a critical skill for any team to have at any level of hockey. Transitioning between offense and defence is a skill that the Rockets will have to work on, said Armitage. He added that, right now, it’s taking players a bit too long to switch from forechecking to back-checking and vice-versa, something that was very evident on Friday night in the game against Stettler.
Armitage also said that, while the players have good chemistry in the dressing room, they need to work on knowing where their teammates are on the ice.
Working on passing and positioning will lead to the Rockets setting up much stronger plays in future games. “That will probably just take some time,” said Armitage. “It’s early in the year, that timing is off but they have a good attitude and the good skating will really bring that along.”
A positive attitude and a desire to learn will help the Rockets develop those skills quickly, said Armitage. He added that when those skills develop a few months into the season the Rockets should have a fairly strong team.
Starting this season, body contact has been removed from pee wee minor hockey in Alberta. However, Armitage said he predicts the rule change will have little to no effect on the team.
“Our team focuses more on skating,” said Armitage. “Taking the hitting out of there isn’t going to affect these guys at all. Being a strong skating team it will probably help them a little bit.”
This year’s team is about a 50/50 mix between first-year pee wee rookies and second-year pee wee veterans.