The Sooke Thunderbirds want to take their success from last season and go a step further.
The Midget A hockey club won the Vancouver Island Hockey Association championship and went on to place third in the provincial finals.
“Last year we weren’t supposed to do anything, and we surprised everyone,” said coach Kevin Berger.
This year the club is hungry for more and is eyeing a provincial title.
The Thunderbirds lost three veterans over the summer, but have been bolstered with five rookies who are expected to fill the spots both offensively and defensively.
“I’m very excited this year,” Berger said Sunday following the team’s 6-4 win over the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies. “We have an awesome team.”
The Thunderbirds will be led on and off the ice by goaltender Max Clouser, 17, who Berger calls “a rock,” but he’s quick to point out that every player will need to contribute for the team to be successful.
“It’s about the collective talent. We’re only as strong as our weakest player,” he said.
This weekend, the Thunderbirds will play in a placement round-robin tournament to determine which Tier 3 division they’ll play in this year. Last year the club played in Division 2.
Three players from last year’s attend tryouts for junior B teams, but have since returned, although they were listed as affiliated players, meaning they could be called up through the season to junior B.
It was a relief for Berger when the players returned because before then he was unsure whether Sooke could ice a Midget rep team.
Berger hopes Sooke will get behind this year’s team, which plays at the highest level of hockey in the region.
“These are elite athletes. These are kids Sooke should get behind and be involved with.”
Sooke squad splits weekend contests
Sooke Thunderbirds split a pair of games against Island rivals last weekend.
On Sunday, the Thunderbirds topped Juan de Fuca Grizzlies 6-4, with the offense being shared by six different players. Scoring for Sooke were Tyson Friesen, Nin Dougall, James Vincee, Carter Navarrette, Dexter Kennedy and Jaden Lawrence.
Port Alberni Bulldogs visited Seaparc Leisure Complex arena Saturday and edged the local side 2-1. Ty Didman got the lone Sooke goal.