The Olds Grizzlys will hold their home opener against the Calgary Mustangs on Friday, 7:30 p.m. at the Sportsplex.
That will kick off what the team hopes to be a playoff season.
“I think if we go through the schedule, looking at what we know about other teams, we certainly feel like we can be a playoff team,” said Joe Murphy, head coach of the Grizzlys.
“We certainly feel like if we’re in the ballpark of 24 to 26 wins, that gets us a playoff spot.”
In order to achieve this goal, Murphy highlights attention, professionalism and an honest approach to the game as key.
“The truth of the matter is that hockey is about effort and structure and when the two match up you’re very hard to play against,” said Murphy. “You can control a lot of outcomes by how organized your play is.”
This is a rebuilding season for the team and it will see a lot of fresh faces, whether players are new to junior hockey or new to Olds. The team will have its roster narrowed down to 25 by Friday.
“There’ll be a lot of fresh faces this year, potentially as many as 10 first-year junior players,” Murphy said. “We only have seven returning players from last year’s roster.”
When it came to choosing new players there was strong focus on obtaining skilled players as opposed to focusing on size.
“Hockey is a skill game; if a big player can’t skate or has trouble moving the puck then it doesn’t matter how big they are.”
Training camp went well for the Grizzlys and coming out of it Murphy highlighted two players as standouts.
“I would say that (forward) Hunter Leslie is a bright spot in terms of new players that have joined us,” said Murphy.
“The goaltending situation is exciting. Levi Mitchell from Olds has done a great job as well. If I had to pick two that’d be the two.”