No stone will be left unturned as the Bow Mark Oilers pick their roster.
Entering their third season in the Alberta Midget ‘AAA’ Hockey League, the new Bow Mark coaching staff has seven games of exhibition action to evaluate what’s a deep pool of prospective players.
“I’m extremely excited especially with the full-time program we have here with the kids that are involved at the (Foothills) Composite High School,” said Bow Mark Oilers head coach Ryan Barrett. “Between us and them I think it’s going to be a very good relationship in regards to creating kids that have a professional attitude with their schooling and also their hockey.
“It’s all going to tie in and we really put a high importance on the academics and making sure these kids are prepared to take on the opportunities that present themselves.”
Barrett, the Okotoks Jr. A Oilers assistant coach for the previous three seasons, hopes to streamline the flow of his Midget AAA players to the next level, be it with the Oilers or other junior clubs.
“Having the Oilers right beside us, if we’ve got those players that do want to stay in Okotoks and fulfill that AJHL dream with the Oilers we want to be able to give them the best opportunities we can give them,” Barrett added. “Not all these kids can go play for the Okotoks Oilers, but our process is to make that transition to that team a little more seamless.
“At the end of the day also give them the opportunity to challenge for any other team they want to go to as well.”
Barrett and the Oilers coaching staff put the Bow Mark prospects to the paces at training camp last week, culminating in the Green & White Game on Sept. 7.
There were just five returning Bow Mark players skating on the ice with a couple more out due to injury and a couple at junior camps.
Talent was not in short order with a number of players on last year’s strong AA Oilers and M-15 Oilers teams on the ice.
“I think the team is set up to do very well this year,” Barrett said. “And with that goes a lot of hard work from the coaches that were done before me. It’s been a process for the group and the board. We’re in our third year and hopefully we can start making some strides in regards to what we’re doing on the ice. We want to win on the ice and we want to win in the classroom, too.
“I think the group of guys we’ve got and the culture we’re trying to create here is definitely going in the right direction.”
Okotoks finished seventh in the Chrysler Division during both of its first two seasons in the AMHL, though they took a step last year with a four-point increase.
Bow Mark charges into a busy exhibition series this week at the Pason Green and Gold Arenas. First up, the Oilers play the Calgary Flames on Sept. 11 at 6:45 p.m., followed by a Sept. 12 date at 5 p.m. versus the Airdrie CFR Bisons, a 7:30 p.m. contest with the defending provincial champion Calgary Buffaloes on Sept. 13.
The Oilers then play the Flames again on Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and wrap up the week with a double-header on Sept. 15, first against the Red Deer Chiefs at 11:15 a.m. followed by a clash with the Calgary Northstars on Sept. 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Okotoks is carrying a big number of players during exhibition and should be making most of their final roster decisions following the exhibition series, Barrett said.
“We’ve got to carry a bigger roster which is kind of nice because then we’re not making any rash decisions on some of these guys,” he said. “It’s a battle for some of these spots. Just going through it, it’s like holy smokes I need to see more.
“And I’m glad I get to see more and I get possibly three or four more games out of each player.”
After the series, the Oilers have two remaining pre-season games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sept. 20 at Scott Seaman Sports Rink and on the road on Sept. 28.
The Oilers open the regular season at home on Oct. 5 versus the Northstars.
For more information go to ooaaoilerhockey.ca