Grizzlys have a shot at the playoffs: coach
Emphasis is on players who want to compete
Tuesday, Jan 02, 2018 06:00 am
Although the Olds Grizzlys were in the basement of the AJHL Viterra South division as of the end of 2017, head coach Adam Redmond is optimistic they can climb out of there – perhaps to fourth or fifth place in the eight-team division, and possibly win a first-round playoff matchup.
All it takes is the right kids with the right attitude and talent, and Redmond says those pieces are being put in place.
As of Dec. 27, the Grizzlys sat in eighth and last place in the Viterra South division with 14 wins and 21 losses for 29 points in 36 games; three points back of the seventh-place Camrose Kodiaks, four back of the Calgary Canucks and seven behind the Canmore Eagles.
“We had a little bit of a snag with a nine-game losing streak. After that, we kind of have been on the positive side of things,” Redmond said during a year-end interview with the Albertan.
“We’ve set goals of five-game segments. We’ve won – I think it was four of the five. So in hindsight, we’ve been doing pretty well with everything there.”
He said that’s pretty good, given the team has gone through a fair bit of turnover, with various players being traded.
“It’s hard to do team building and that when you have so many people turning over, basically,” Redmond said.
“We’re not just packing it in. We want to make the playoffs and we want to try to be fourth or fifth in this league in the south.
“We want to win a playoff round. And at the end of the day, like I say, we want to go as far as we can. And aside from teams like Okotoks, Spruce (Grove), Fort Mac, you know, I think we can beat any of those other teams any given night,” he added.
Redmond said a big problem is many players mistakenly believe they won’t get noticed and thus obtain a scholarship if they play on a team that’s not up there in the standings.
Those aren’t the players the Grizzlys want on their team.
He cited Ryley Smith, Edson Coetze and Jared Power as examples of players who felt they’d do better on more successful teams so they asked to be traded. Smith and Coetze have been traded.
Redmond said the team has been trying to honour Power’s request but so far has not been offered a player they deem to be suitable in return. He said meanwhile, Power went back home.
“There are a lot of positives, a lot of good things going on. We’re bringing in the right kids; kids who want to be in Olds, who love Olds,” Redmond said.
Redmond said first of all, the Grizzlys want players who put the needs of the team ahead of their own. That not only creates success for the team as it plays more cohesively and with more desire, but it also helps the individual out, as they get more scoring chances, etc.
“Josh Bornick loves being here; loves it. Jack Berger loves being here. And that’s good, whereas some other kids are like, ‘I don’t want to be playing in Olds. I don’t like the town, the facilities,’ and stuff like that.
“We just need to find more and more good kids out there who put their individual needs second and put Olds’ needs first. And I feel like we’re on that right track. We’re finding the right character, we’re finding the right discipline, we’re finding the good kids, and, you know, you bring in one good person at a time.”
He said although the Grizzlys had just 14 wins as of last week, the team had just three more during the entire season last year, so he cites that as one positive thing, and it gives him hope for the remainder of the season.
“Every game for us right now is a playoff hockey game,” Redmond said. “It’s making us better. Every game is a must-win for us.”
He said the challenge is there’s now great parity in the league.
“From Drumheller down, any night, you could win or lose those games, which is great for the league, but it’s going to be terrible for that one team that doesn’t make it,” Redmond said.
He said although improvements can always be made, the team has lots of talent on defence, offence and in net right now. What they’re looking for – what they demand – is players who want to compete, night in and night out.
“But at the end, I feel like we have a shot, right? We’re not the bottom feeding team. We’re able to beat teams any given night, depending on our effort, depending how much we care; that’s the biggest thing.”