High hopes for 2017-18 Camrose Kodiaks
After a long summer, the Camrose Kodiaks are ready to hit the ice this Saturday to begin their march for an Alberta Junior Hockey League championship.
Head coach and general manager Boris Rybalka says the goal this year is simple: win a championship.
"When you're in sports some people may say you're arrogant, some people may say you're cocky, I say we're confident," he said.
Last season the Kodiaks were swept out of the playoffs in the quarter finals by the Okotoks Oilers, but this year is a fresh start. The Kodiaks will have 60 guys out at training camp, with the championship journey starting on Saturday.
"If you can make your athletes believe that [winning a championship], and that's our job as a staff make every player here when they show up for camp believe we are going to win a championship," Rybalka said.
Rybalka knows there is a lot of things that need to go the Kodiaks' way in order to claim a championship.
"Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of pieces that go into play, we've been fortunate that we've won championships," he said. "We're confident that we believe we can win a championship if we go to work and do it right."
Camrose has lost a few players, but Rybalka says they have had a good recruiting class. The Kodiaks want to be a tough team to play against this season, and made sure to get tenacious players.
"We want to see a team that is so hard to play against. What we mean by hard to play against is our work ethic, our never quit attitude, our desire, that to me is what champions are made of," Rybalka said.
"You can have the skill you can have this and that but when teams know 'if it's Camrose, they're going to be so difficult to play against because they're going to be tenacious on the backcheck, tenacious in the neutral zone and that never quit attitude. That's the identity we want."
All four lines this year will be out to make the lives of the opposing teams a nightmare to play against.
"We honestly believe we have line 1, line 1a, line 1b, line 1c, and that is a tough one to play against those type of teams because every line that comes out is just going to work their butts off. That's what we've been trying to get," he said.
The long, grueling season could be a successful one if the players buy into the system.
"Aug. 26 to end of April to win that AJHL championship, this is the process, now they're going to have to start buying in and trusting us," Rybalka said. "Realistically, that's our goal, we believe we can win a championship."
Kodiaks training camp starts on Saturday at 11 a.m. and finishes off with the Ray McIsaac Cup intrasquad game on Monday at 7 p.m. There will also be a preseason tournament running from Wednesday to Friday, with the Camrose hosting Sherwood Park, Drumheller, Whitecourt, Spruce Grove, and Fort McMurray all games at the Encana Arena.