Following a summer of establishing and building a midget AAA hockey program in Airdrie, the CFR Chemical Bisons are ready to take to the ice for the 2017-18 Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League (AMHL) season.
A young and inexperienced group makes up a majority of the roster.
“Going through the exhibition process, there was a lot of teaching as we go. There were good things that we saw, but there (are) always things we need to improve on,” head coach Dan Gendur said. “Having a midget AAA team here is a good thing for the city of Airdrie. We’re excited to get going.”
The Bisons kicks off its 2017-18 campaign with a road game Sept. 30 against the Calgary Royals at the Stu Peppard Arena in Calgary, going up against the team it wrapped up its pre-season schedule with Sept. 25.
The herd won’t have to wait long to get its first taste of regular season action at home, as it will welcome the Calgary Buffaloes to Ron Ebbesen Arena Oct. 1.
Although some teams won’t have their rosters finalized until after their final pre-season game, the Bisons elected to select its regular season roster before the Sept. 25 game.
In its final pre-season game, the Bisons jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but gave up seven unanswered goals en route to a 7-4 loss and the team’s sixth straight loss.
Gendur said the loss was a tough one for the team, one he’d rather experience in the pre-season than the regular season.
“If we can play a 60-minute game like we did in the first period, we’ll be in the game,” Gendur said. “We, as coaches, took that loss as a learning experience for the team. We’ve been harping at them all pre-season to not let your foot off the gas. That example is a great teaching tool.”
Ten of the 20 players named to the roster are 16, with just Cayde Augustine returning from last season’s team, which played in Strathmore. Gendur said the team would lean heavily on Augustine’s experience in the early stages of the season.
“(Augustine) is a top-notch defenceman in our league. We are extremely happy that we have him,” Gendur said. “His experience is going to help us, especially with us going younger this year.”
In addition to Augustine, 2000-born Kory Zinck joins the club after playing last season with the Southeast Athletic Club Tigers, which dropped out of the AMHL this season, as another player with league experience.
The Bisons are also bringing five 15-year-old players to the roster, which Gendur said was a high number for the AMHL. He sais he was incredibly impressed with the young crew in training camp and pre-season.
“Every single one of them deserves to be here,” Gendur said. “They’ll have all five of them to lean on through tough times as well.”