Aldergrove Kodiaks stayed within a point of both the third place Abbotsford Outlaws and second place Langley Trappers thanks to a big 3-1 win Friday night against the Ridge Meadows Flames.
It was with the leadership of new head coach and former Kodiaks centre-iceman Chris Price, from Aldergrove, that the team has won their last two games – the first tallied 5-3 against the Port Moody Panthers on Wednesday (Nov. 20).
The Kodiaks current roster, Price said, is comprised of more veteran players than most other Junior B teams in the Harold Brittain Conference.
“We have 11 20-year-old players in our crew,” Price said, which gives the team a great advantage on ice.
When the 30-year-old coach first met the team “[he] told the guys that I’ve been in their shoes. It feels like it was just yesterday even though it was 10 years ago,” he reminisced.
His Kodiaks crew – with Price as team captain in his last year and the Kodiaks’ second season operating – fought hard to secure Aldergrove’s first-ever Pacific Junior Hockey League championship standing in 2009-10 for the Junior B team.
Price knows first-hand that many of the older players likely “all have dreams of playing a higher level,” he still thinks that this season will be worthwhile as they also dream of “wanting to win together.”
Price’s strategy – improve the Kodiak’s weakest-proven areas on ice, which remain their powerplay and penalty performance when short-handed.
“For both systems we rank near the bottom of the league,” Price said, “so if we can get to a higher standing like average among other teams, we will be killer on ice.”
Price also plans to consider the input of the bear’s current team captain, 20-year-old Ty Pickering, as well as the three assistant captains.
A lot of the Kodiaks’ current success, with a five-game win streak as of Nov. 20, Price attributes to their “five-on-five” skills and chemistry.
“So far I’ve had four practices and two games with the team,” Price said on Tuesday. “What sticks out to me most is their effort-level.
“It sets them apart and as a coach, to see that is just unreal.”
Price – though much younger than previous head coach Darin Vetterl – has coached elite athletes of the sport for nearly a decade in areas of the Lower Mainland.
Price has been with Impact Hockey Development in Langley City as an on-ice and strength conditioning coach for six years now, with Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford for four, and scouting staff on the Junior A Chilliwack Chiefs team this year.
Price plans to work with the Kodiaks for the rest of the season as the new head coach, admitting that he and the team “will only go as far as they will take me” on the ice.
The Kodiaks will take on the Grandview Steelers on Wednesday in Aldergrove, and the next night face-off against the Richmond Sockeyes on Thursday.