Matt Stang doesn’t mince words when he talks about the team he inherited when he was hired by the Sicamous Eagles Hockey Club earlier this month to take on head coaching duties. He says there was a lot of complacency and not a lot of accountability, let alone a will to win.
“This is a pretty big mess I was left with and it’s not going to change overnight, but every day we’ve taken strides in the right direction,” said Stang. “There was a mentality in that room when I got there that it was just OK to lose because that’s all they’ve known, that’s all that they’ve done for the last two years.”
Since coming onboard, Stang says he’s brought structure to the team. He’s also making sure players receive the training and instruction they need to be in the game.
“Some of the kids weren’t even in hockey shape, some of them still aren’t,” said Stang. “And it’s a process, every day now… We’ve implemented a mandatory gym policy and also now I have brought in a strength-conditioning coach and a goalie coach to help the kids out and give them every resource possible.”
Nine new faces have joined the team roster. Stang said players who wanted to make a change stayed, while those who didn’t had to go.
“So right now… I think we have a great core and leadership and moving forward, we’re going to see hopefully two wins on the board come next weekend,” said Stang.
Last Friday’s home game versus the Chase Heat, Stang said two power-plays and a lucky bounce contributed to the visitor’s 3-0 win.
“I was happy with the kids and they way they played, but holding the kids accountable for taking dumb penalties… it’s part of the process of teaching these kids that accountability,” said Stang. “It’s holding them to a high standard.”
Eagles newcomer, goalie Josh Bolding was named the game’s first star after stopping 29 out of 32 shots on net.
The following evening in Kelowna, the Eagles suffered 7-3 defeat to the Chiefs.
Stang said penalties were once again an issue for the Eagles, and that’s one of the things the team needs to work on.
Sicamous got on the board in the first frame with back-to-back markers by Jace Woodley assisted by Eric Porter, and Logan Middleton off Woodley. The third goal was an unassisted delivery by Cameron Flinton late in the second.
Despite not yet having a win under its belt, Stang recognizes the Eagles are only four games out of a playoff spot, with about 33 games left to the season.
“That’s very attainable,” said Stang of making the playoffs. “Teams are easy to catch and when you play games in your division, 80 per cent of our games left are against teams in our division. It’s going to be a nice ride to see where we’re going to end up by Christmas and going into the post season.”