The Tiger Hills Hockey League is in full swing, and the Gladstone Lakers are starting to get their skates under them.
The Lakers dropped their first two contests of the season but have gotten back on track in recent weeks. Head coach Dale Evenson says it can often take the squad a bit of time to get into game shape.
"We don't practice really before any games, so it takes us a while to get going. You could really tell in our first two games that we were a step behind everybody but we played quite a bit better last week. Hopefully, we can continue on that path."
The head coach adds it makes a big difference when they are able to have a full bench, especially this early in the season. Evenson says they have a pair of new additions to the squad this season, one of which Portage Terrier fans may recognize.
"Riley Bruce and Stephen Kleysen are two D-men that we've added this year. Both played some high-level hockey, which is really beneficial for our team. Both have played really well so far, and they enjoy coming out here, which is terrific," Evenson explains. "It's great to have some new blood on the team. You always miss the old guys that go away but that's part of senior hockey. We're quite excited that they're on our team this year."
Bruce totalled 38 points in 34 games for the Terriers in his final season of junior hockey before being traded to the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Kleysen played his last year of junior hockey with the West Kelowna Warriors and spent six games in the NCAA.
The Tiger Hills Hockey League expansion has been a benefit for the entire league, noting there's quite a bit of parody this season. With that being the case, Evenson says the Lakers have championship aspirations.
"The goal is always to win the last game of the year but it doesn't always work out that way," Evenson continues. "We always try to put a good product on the ice and keep everybody happy. They like watching good hockey, that's what we try to provide. We always hope to go further in the playoffs every year but that's not easy in our league. The main goal is to go as far as we can."
The head coach says they've had a solid amount of fans in attendance so far this season, and he's thankful for the support they get from the Gladstone community. The Lakers will be on the road tonight as they take on the Cartwright Clippers at 8:00.