After three successful exhibition games against the Powell River Regals, the Sechelt Hitmen are taking a shot at their first full season of senior mens AA hockey.
The Hitmen will play in a division along with the Regals and Mid Island (Courtenay) Blazers playing a six-game home schedule with four games on the road. Sechelt opens their home campaign on Oct. 23 versus the Regals at the Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt at 7 p.m.
But before that, team spokesman and goaltender Keith McKenzie said there is lots of work to be done before the first drop of the puck.
I think we surprised even ourselves a bit by the way we played in the exhibition games, said McKenzie. There are a lot of talented players on the Coast. Its just a matter of bringing them all together, starting to gel as a team, get systems in place and get ready to play.
McKenzie said he sees the senior mens team as a big boost to hockey in this community.
We dont have junior B or junior A hockey. This is a chance for a family to have an affordable night out and watch some good hockey, he said.
The Hitmen have a pretty lofty goal for their inaugural season to host the Coy Cup, the provincial senior mens championship tournament.
We know as a first year team its going to be hard to get the right to host the tournament, but if we cant do that, our goal is to qualify for the Coy Cup and take a run at the title, he said.
Leading the team both on and off the ice is player/coach Brad Wingfield, who has a successful track record in pro hockey.
Wingfield attended NHL camps for both Columbus and Minnesota, played in the American Hockey League with Houston, Syracuse and Hershey and also played in the European Super League.
Were looking forward to getting started. Its a matter of bringing everything to the table, getting players on the same page and bringing the team together, said Wingfield.
The Hitmen have an open tryout slated for 9:30 p.m. at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre on Sept. 24. Any player 19 years or older is welcome to come out.
Having Brad on board with his professional experience instantly gives us a really good chance to compete, McKenzie said. People on the Coast are going to get their moneys worth and were going to do everything we can to put a great product on the ice.
Ticket prices for all home games are $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Tickets will be available a few weeks prior to home games at Trail Bay Source for Sports and Lucys and will be available at the door.
The Sechelt Spiders womens team will be running the beer garden and assisting the Hitmen with game-day operations.
The home schedule for the year is as follows:
Oct. 23 vs Powell River, 7 p.m., Sechelt
Nov. 27 vs Powell River, 7 p.m. Gibsons
Dec. 4 vs Mid Island, 7 p.m. Sechelt
Jan. 8 vs Mid Island, 7:15 p.m. Gibsons
Feb. 4 vs Powell River, 8:45 p.m. Sechelt
Feb. 5 vs Mid Island, 7:15 p.m. Sechelt