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Huskies Hockey

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When the puck dropped at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 18th at the Casman Centre, history was made for Keyano College. It was the first official hockey home game for Keyano College in the Alberta College’s Athletic Conference (ACAC). Excitement has been brewing for the start of the season since it was announced in May 2011 that hockey would be joining an already expanding Huskies Athletics program.

In the year and a half since the announcement was made, the Athletics department has been very busy working to put all the pieces together to ensure a quality team to represent Keyano.

But what exactly does it take to build a hockey team? What are the obstacles to recruiting to Northern Alberta? Who would coach this new team of young men at the most northern college in the Canadian College Athletics Association? While there were a lot of questions to be answered, excitement ensured and step-by-step the program has been preparing for its upcoming season opener.

We asked Coach Paul Strand, what challenges he was facing as a first time ACAC coach and specifically as the coach of a brand new team. Strand spoke to convincing players to come to a team that had no current players, no established leadership, and no reputation to speak of. While spending a great deal of time recruiting for his new team since joining the Athletic Staff in September of 2011, Strand needed to paint a picture for prospective athletes of what the team would look like, how the program would treat them, and what the benefits of being a student at Keyano College were, far beyond that of just hockey. Wanting to put together a strong team, Strand knew that quality players with a competitive edge wouldn’t want to join a team that would struggle or lose for an entire inaugural season. It was a definite balancing act to bring his team together.

Aside from intense recruitment efforts, there were also all the administrative duties of building a new team that would weigh on Strand and the rest of the Athletic Department. Where would the team play? What would the jerseys look like, would the program be received well by sponsors, and would the community be interested in watching college hockey? Strand has been overwhelmed by the community support and the outpouring of encouragement to include hockey as part of the Huskies Athletics program.

“Industry and college financial support has been awesome! The local media has been excited and engaged to learn about developments with the team and has been reporting our growth to the community. I couldn’t ask for a better community to be starting with a new team,” says Strand.

As excitement for the 2012/2013 Huskies Athletics season builds, the Huskies Athletics department is looking forward to the inaugural hockey home game as well as the season openers for its other sports, (soccer September 8, basketball October 26 and volleyball November 2). Season passes are now on sale at the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre and for only $99 you can catch all the action of some 40 home games. n

Be sure to check out the Keyano Huskies when they take the ice against Portage Thursday, October 18 at the Casman Centre, puck drops at 7 p.m. Call the front desk at 780-791-7792 to purchase tickets or further information. GO HUSKIES!

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