Even though I'm a huge hockey fan I have to admit, starting the season this early is a real kick in the junk. There I was, still enjoying the near-tropical Calgary climate when, like a cheesy '60s Batman episode, "Pow!" Realization set in that I had to start chalking the puck talk for another season.
Reluctantly, and with drink in hand, I began preparing myself for another year of post-deadline greatness. However, now that I am feeling back in the groove, I have to admit there is plenty to be excited about in the upcoming season.
Â The men's hockey team only lost a couple of players from last year's roster, and there should be more than enough depth wading around the talent pool to fill the void. With the promise of stronger defensive play than last season and fresh offensive talent up front, there is no reason why this team can't take a step beyond last season's disappointing second half.
"Basically, all the areas we needed to improve on (from last season) we've done so," said fifth-year forward Ken McKay. "We needed to bring guys in that could put the puck in the net, as well as shore up our defence, and we've done that."
Another major boost for the team will be the return of All-Star netminder Aaron Baker, who wasn't expected to return for his final season but decided to play out his remaining eligibility. Other than great goaltending, Baker will also be relied upon as a leader on a team with no shortage of leadership.
"Up front, Sean Robertson always brings intensity to the game, and defensively Sheldon Nedjelski is a guy that will be counted on," states the modest McKay.
When asked what goals McKay has set for himself for the upcoming season, he keeps it simple.
"I just want to be better than last season," McKay explains. "I don't want to put numbers on it, because then if you reach them you didn't set them high enough."
High expectations will be in abundance for the veteran-laden club this season, as this year is as good as any for the team to take the next step and bring home a championship--or at least beat those damn University of Alberta Golden Bears.