OLDS — U18AA Olds Grizzlys head Coach Cody Leeming has some unfinished business.
The team hosted the South Central Alberta Hockey League’s (SCAHL) conference tournament March 9-12 and came within a hair of winning a semifinal.
The Grizzlys were beaten 5-3 by the Bow Valley Timberwolves in that semifinal on Saturday, March 11.
But it was closer than that score might indicate. The Timberwolves got an empty-netter to seal that victory.
The Timberwolves went on to win the tournament, edging the Red Deer Elks 2-1 in the final.
Leeming hopes to coach the U18 Grizzlys again next season.
“That’s the plan,” he said during an interview with the Albertan.
“Yeah, (we’ll) see what happens. But I love coaching this team and coaching this age group of guys, so as long as they have me, I for sure would love to be back.”
Leeming says the team was one of the youngest in the league this season. Six players age out. Unfortunately, that includes their captain, “one of our shut-down guys on D” and a couple of players in their top six.
On the other hand, they had some rookies who performed really well.
"I believe we have seven first-year kids on our team,” Leeming said. "I think three of them were on D. We had one of our goalies and then kind of one of our top players as well. So things should be looking good for the future – at least next year with this team.”
Leeming agreed those rookies got a chance to learn a lot from watching the three-year vets and team leaders. That should bode well for the future.
"They made up about a third of our team and honestly, played a big role for us,” he said.
“If we didn’t have those first-years, I don’t think we have a team here in Olds.
“So as young and inexperienced as they were, I think they developed awesome on and off the ice this year, just again, playing against people two years older than them and they were a big part of our team this year.”