Prince Rupert’s bantam and peewee rep teams put some time in on the ice on Sept. 23 and 24 in preparation for their upcoming seasons.
Both teams played exhibition games to sharpen their skills at the Jim Ciccone ice arena. The bantam team beat Kitimat’s bantam squad 5-1 while the peewee team lost to Terrace 8-5. Both teams enter the season with aspirations of deep playoff runs and are hoping that experience and veteran leadership will help them accomplish their goals.
The bantam reps had what Watkinson described as a “learning experience” in 2016, as there were not enough players to put a team on the ice in 2015. Watkinson says the team struggled with body checking as they were not used to the physical nature of Bantam play.
“We competed hard, we had some good competition with Houston and Terrace,” he said. “But against some of the stronger teams it was tougher.”
This year, the Bantam Seawolves feature 12 returning players who will have another year of experience under their belts. Head coach Bruce Watkinson said this continuity will translate to better results on the ice, and he anticipates Prince Rupert being one of the leaders in the club’s division.
“I feel really good,” he said. “We’ve got a veteran team…so we’re going to be experienced, we’re bigger, we’re a better skating club. So I feel really good heading into this season.”
Watkinson described his team as a well-rounded one that works and skates hard, even if it is not flashy. This season, he hopes to see them to forecheck aggressively and be responsible with the puck in their own zone.
“We move the puck well and nobody outworks us,” he said. “We’ve got a good puck moving defense and some size and speed up front.”
Peewee head coach Jamie Lowe said his team is a blue-collar team who did well to play tough against one of the best teams in the division.
“Terrace usually has a very good team so for us to hang with them for most of the game was good,” he said.
The peewees only have six players returning from last year’s team so he said it’s up to the veterans on the squad to lead by example and show the younger players how to win games.
“I’ve asked the younger players to watch and emulate the older guys in practice and the games, and believe in the process, he said. “It’s a long journey from here until March.”