July 16th, 2024

Copperheads expected to rely on depth in new season

By Lethbridge Herald on September 22, 2023.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Coaldale Copperheads kick off a new Heritage Junior Hockey League season tonight with new coaches behind the bench.

Co-coaches Geoff Oster and Cody Moskal were hired this offseason to lead a team that finished fifth out of a six-team South Division loop who lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs to the Strathmore Wheatland Kings.

The Copperheads have many veteran players coming back.

“Actually we’re pretty deep this year,” said Moskal.

“Geoff and I always kind of say that you’re only as strong as your depth. So we’ve got some high-end forwards for sure, but our depth upfront is probably going to be the big factor.”

Total commitment is what the coaches are looking for from the players.

“I understand it’s difficult to commit fully when you have full time jobs and you’re going to school full time or both,” said Oster.

“But we do expect the team that we put on the ice to be the hardest working bunch of guys out there every night.”

The coaches are instilling the hard working concept through expectation.

“We’ve had the opportunity to coach probably two-thirds of this team at some point in time in their minor hockey career,” said Oster.

“So we have parts of our provincial championship team here, we have parts of a team that went to the finals in provincials and won silver the following year and we got parts of the team that went and placed third at Sutter Cup three years in a row. So, year after year after year. So when Cody says that we have depth, we have depth. We have scoring, we have defence, we have commitment and through past experience with these players, they know what to expect.”

With their hirings, both coaches want to work on the culture of the team.

“We’re expecting the culture to be different this year,” said Oster.

“So first and foremost, you have to develop a culture with your players, which I think we have and second they have to trust us. They have to trust us that we know what we’re doing and what we’re bringing them will give them success and the last part of that would be their input on the ice.”

While their goaltending tandem not yet set , whomever earns the two spots will be key to the team’s success.

“We do have two very adequate goaltenders that are going to be able to help us out,” said Oster.

“Two out of the three that we have here, we’ve coached in the past and our expectation is that they do their job and the door.”

Players that are expected to have breakthrough years include second-year Nolan Price, Caden Heins and Rylan Bruns to name a few.

“This is probably one of the deepest teams that I’ve ever coached,” said Oster.

The Copperheads open up the season tonight when they host the High River Flyers at 7 p.m. at the Coaldale Sportsplex.

The snakes second home game goes Sunday at 5 p.m. versus the Medicine Hat Cubs.

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