The start of a new hockey season at any level always brings with it eternal optimism — the belief that every team is a contender.
Even if that team has won just once in the past two years.
The Western Kings of the Newfoundland and Labrador AAA Peewee Hockey League are holding that hope in their hearts heading into this weekend as they hit the ice for the annual season kick-off tournament that will see every team square off against each other over the course of three days.
The Kings have struggled royally the past couple of campaigns, posting a 1-31-0 record last year, following a 0-28-0 mark the season before.
But incumbent coach Gerard Morry believes the current Kings roster has a better balance and is more well-rounded than previous incarnations. Plus, he said, the line-up includes a greater number of second-year peewee players than ever before, despite the fact only five are returnees from last year’s club.
“Based on what I saw the last couple of years on the west coast, versus this team, I expect this team to be more competitive,” he said while on his way out east to Bay Bulls, where the weekend’s action will take place at Southern Shore Arena.
The main objective of this weekend for Morry — other than to hopefully see his squad get in the win column early — is to assess where any potential strengths or weaknesses lie compared to the other teams.
“You might find you’re strong in one area, so you won’t ignore that, you’ll keep building on it,” he said. “But you might focus more on the defects of your game.”
Whether this season pans out with more success than those previous isn’t the end-all, be-all for Morry, however. He said his involvement as coach of the team goes well beyond wins and losses.
“Let’s face it, to go two years and only win one game, that would kind of kill anybody’s courage,” he said.
But it’s the kids that keep him behind the bench — their never-say-die attitude has been almost infectious.
Through all the struggles, said Morry, the team never went on a road trip without a full roster.
“Nobody last year folded their tent up,” he said. “So, when you see everybody else committed like that, why would I not be committed?”
The Kings begin play 11 a.m. Friday versus the TriCom Thunder, before tangling with the St. John’s Hitmen 11 a.m. Saturday.
From there, they play the TriPen Ice 4 p.m. Saturday, then wrap up the weekend schedule 9 a.m. Sunday against the Central IcePak.