Tough schedule for Kodiaks
The linesmesn separate Camrose Kodiaks forward Jacob Kendall from Okotoks Oilers defenceman Carson Beers after their fight on Sunday. Sean Mascaluk/Pro Sports Photography
The Camrose Kodiaks will find out where they stand immediately next season.
The Kodiaks have one of the most difficult opening months in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, opening at home against South Division champion Okotoks Oilers on Sept. 14, with games against the Drumheller Dragons, the Spruce Grove Saints, the Brooks Bandits, Grande Prairie Storm and Sherwood Park Crusaders to round out the first three weeks of the schedule, which was released this past week.
"Some might say it's a tough schedule, depending on how you start … It is and it isn't," said Kodiaks head coach and general manager Boris Rybalka. "You might as well play those teams. We think we're going to be a pretty good team and I think there's going to be a lot of good teams this year in the league …
"It's going to prepare us and make the guys understand that 60 games goes very fast and you better be ready for every game."
The Kodiaks know better than most that a campaign can spiral out of control pretty quickly. They went on a club-record 11-game losing streak through October to early December last year and found themselves in last place in the AJHL South. But they fought their way out of the basement and secured the No. 4 seed in the South by season's end.
"At the end of the day it's about being ready, preparing and being better every days," said Rybalka.
Highlighting this year's schedule early will be the AJHL Showcase, which will be hosted in Camrose for the fourth-straight season. The showcase brings all 16 teams to Encana Arena and Max McLean Arena for two games each over the Sept. 27-29 weekend.
The showcase is a hotbed for pro and college scouts and gives fans a unique opportunity to see every AJHL team play in one weekend. It is also an opportunity for the Kodiaks to show off Camrose to the greater hockey community.
"Do we make money out of that weekend? No," said Rybalka. "The reason we put in the bid to host … we can give back and turn around promote the league, promote the community and promote the city. The amount of money that comes into the city is huge."
The Kodiaks are also into their season ticket campaign, hoping to increase the number of season-long passes from 300-800. If they hit their goal they will give away $10,000.
"It might be a little lofty … but if you don't set your goals at the proper level you will never attain them," said Rybalka.