For the Sooke Thunderbirds to succeed in minor hockey’s pee wee division this year, it will come down to heart, desire, and hard work, says coach Nick Szadkowski.
The Thunderbirds lost two of their star players this year due to a revamping of the rep program.
“It was great for those two players to move up and play at a higher level,” said Szadkowski. “The negative side was it left two big holes in our line up.”
Szadkowski said he was nervous going into the season, but soon realized other teams had also lost players to the new rep teams.
The Thunderbirds played to a .500 record in tiering games over the last month, with a 17-0 blowout against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. It was a process where Szadkowski analyzed his team and determine where they stood in the pack.
“The team’s work ethic is its strongest point,” he said. “We’re not the most skilled team and nothing will come easy for us, but we’re successful when we work as a team.”
The Thunderbirds have six returning players from last year that will help fill out the roster. Two players were elevated from the house league. The remaining players graduated from the atom program.
Last year the Thunderbirds won the divisional banner.
Szadkowski said so far this year the players and parents have bought into the program, and are finding success on and off the ice.
“We’re looking forward to a great year. I’m pretty excited about the upcoming season,” he said.