May 30th, 2024

Eager Headwater Hurricanes ice AEHL season tonight


By Dale Woodard on October 8, 2021.

Like John Fogerty sings in Centerfield “Put me in, coach.”

As the Lethbridge U16 Headwater Hurricanes drop the puck on their Alberta Elite Hockey League season tonight, perhaps you’ll catch head coach Garry Kimmen humming that ditty.

The Hurricanes open the regular season on the road tonight as they travel to Medicine Hat to take on the South East (SEAC) Tigers at 7:45 p.m. and ice their home opener Sunday at 11:45 a.m. at the Logan Boulet Arena when the Okotoks Oilers pay a visit.

While the injury bug has hit early and hard for the Canes, it has demonstrated to Kimmen and his coaching staff just how eager the remaining players are to fill in.

“From the preseason we’ve got quite a few injuries,” said Kimmen. “So that’s been a bit of a juggling match in having players move into different positions. But these players, you ask a defenceman to play forward or a forward to play defense, it’s no problem. They’re just so happy to be playing hockey and playing a meaningful game that they’re willing do whatever it takes.”

That willingness makes a coach’s job easier, yet more difficult at the same time.

“You just ask them to play right wing or centre or defence and they just go do it,” said Kimmen. “And then you see them struggling and you ask them why, (they’ll say) ‘I’ve never played right wing before.’ But they don’t even want to tell you because they’re so happy to be playing. It’s actually awesome. So now we’re asking the kids where their dominant position is and what they love to play and what they don’t like to play. So we’re starting to get a little bit more of a handle on the group. I think that’s a season-long learning process for both them and us.”

After going 1-4 in the preseason, the teams start playing for keeps tonight. For the Canes, that starts in Medicine Hat before Sunday’s home opener.

“They’re excited to be back in the rink, that’s for sure,” said Kimmen. “They’re very excited to be playing and I hope not over-excited to play some regular season games. The kids are doing whatever they need to do, vaccines and all those things. Whatever rules come out, they’re trying to do that to keep their season alive. It’s nice to see they’re doing what it takes.”

Kimmen said this year’s Canes aren’t the biggest bunch.

“But we’re pretty darned skilled. So that’ll be fun to coach this year and help them progress on their path.”

The Hurricanes are back home next weekend when they host the annual Logan Boulet Memorial Tournament at the ATB Centre.

The Hurricanes return to AEHL play the following weekend as they head to Airdrie Oct. 23 to face the AC (Airdrie/Cochrane) Avalanche.

The Canes are in Calgary the next day to face the Royals.

They’re back home Oct. 31 in a rematch with the Avalanche.

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