Stettler Lightning hit the ice last weekend for a training camp as the team gears up for another season in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League.
“I think some of our returning players came back with more jump than they had before,” said head coach Doug Smith.
Some 26 players showed up at camp, with at least 10 new players and seven goaltenders, with four having previous Lightning experience.
“That will be good to have that many experienced goaltenders,” said Smith.
Prior to trimming the roster to 23 players before the regular season which opens at home against Banff on Oct. 3, the Lightning play four exhibition games including two at Stettler Recreation Centre – Sept. 11 against Wetaskiwin at 9 p.m. and against Ponoka on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.
While the Lightning lost just three players to age from last year, the team lost about seven others to school, work and other commitments.
However, he is optimistic about the strong local contingency of players from the Stettler area hoping to fill a spot on the home team.
“We had a nice turnout of local players and some from Castor and Coronation,” said Smith.
Wtth strong teams reaching league finals in the past two seasons, he is striving to raise the championship trophy next spring.
“A new season brings new hopes and new aspirations,” said Smith.
This season the Lightning will strive to vanquish the foe of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ as the Stettler boys have fallen to Cochrane Generals in the deciding game in the league championship final series the last two seasons.
During the regular season, the Lightning finished second in the north conference with 26 wins and 9 losses for 53 points, two points behind Blackfalds Ford Wranglers and three points ahead of Three Hills Thrashers.