The Central Alberta Selects Bantam AA hockey team are off to an excellent start to the season.
The Selects are currently sitting in first place in the North division of the South Central Alberta Hockey League with a 6-1-1 record.
“We’ve been really good so far,” said Head Coach Matt Williams during a phone interview.
The Selects kicked off the season with a five-game winning streak before being handed their first loss – a 3-2 heart breaker in Lethbridge that saw Central Alberta jump out to an early lead before the Hurricanes surged back to score three unanswered goals. The Selects managed to add a powerplay marker early in the third but just couldn’t quite pull even.
Central Alberta refused to be rattled, though. They’ve scored 44 goals while allowing just 25 in the past eight games. That gives them the third best goal differential in the entire league at plus-19.
“Everyone’s been buying into what we’re trying to do and that’s create really good athletes,” Williams noted.
Williams said the Selects have been good so far at outworking their opposition.
“They bring their work ethic every single day. They show up to practice and they work hard. They show up to games and they outwork other teams. Yes we have talent and yes we have skill but we definitely out work every team we face,” he said.
And that work ethic has shown up on the scoreboard thus far. The Selects have five players that are contributing on a point-per-game basis, and two more that have notched at least five points so far.
“We have a never give up; never surrender atmosphere there and the boys absolutely have been driving,” Williams commented.
The Selects had a bit of a rocky start to the season when they had to hire a brand new coaching staff right off the hop.
“The coaching staff, we’re learning how to get the most out of each kid. Everyone was kind of thrown in at the last minute for the coaching staff.
“It’s quite a start considering that we weren’t involved throughout the whole tryout process.”
Even with the team’s success, though, Williams stressed there is still always room for improvement.
“It’s a young year and there’s room for improvement everywhere. The guys are still learning the systems and they’re still learning what we expect from them as a coaching staff,” he said.
Williams noted the team has also shown signs that they could get even better as the season goes on.
“The guys have really been listening and wanting to learn as much as they can from us. That’s been really good this year. There’s definitely room for improvement everywhere, though. You never stop learning and that’s something that they’re going to continue to do throughout the year.”
The team has also benefited from solid goaltending. Both of their goalies have posted winning records so far this season.
Dalton Beck has posted 108 saves throughout the six games that he has played so far this year to post a .910 save percentage and a 2.48 goals against average while Peyton Lobe has won all four games that he has started with a .850 save percentage.
The Selects have had some excellent contributions on offence as well. One of their players, Brett Meerman, is currently tied for second in the league scoring race with 11 goals and five assists for a total of 16 points in eight games. Another one of their players, Brady McKinlay, is tied for fourth with four goals and nine assists for 13 points.
“I think the highlight for our team is definitely seeing them grow so far this year. I mean from the start of the year until now you just see a completely different team. Everyone’s getting better. From top to bottom they’ve all improved,” Williams noted.
Next up for the Selects is a home game against the Red Deer Steel Kings (1-7-2). Puck drop is at 7:15 p.m. at the Barnett Arena in Lacombe.