Going into his 19th season at the helm of the Sicamous Eagles, head coach Wayne March has never missed the postseason and he doesn’t plan on that changing.
But after a pair of seasons where they barely snuck into the playoffs, the Eagles have nine players returning from last year and could receive two more ,depending on what happens at hockey’s higher levels.
“Usually we bring back three to five at the most,” said March, 68. “It should make us that much stronger.”
Jagger Bowles and Connor Buick return and were top scorers last season. Veterans Brendan Devries and Corbin Marcotte also form a big part of the leadership group. Though not a physically punishing team, March believes their talent will set them apart.
“We’re going to be a strong-skating, skilled, passing team,” said March, adding he likes what he’s seen from new goalie Kris Joyce, who made 50 saves in a loss to Revelstoke. The local flavor on the squad is significant as well with defencemen Aidan Nisse, Cam Olson and Joel Kipp being from Salmon Arm, along with forwards Nathan Grieve and Justin Murray. Blueliner Jameson Stoski is a Sicamous product. But the situation is different this season and it stems from the labor uncertainty at the National Hockey League level. It filters all the way down as young pros are forced to play in the American Hockey League, which in turn forces players down to the WHL, Junior A and Junior B.
The Eagles have played two games so far and have been a tad unlucky as they’ve dropped both in overtime.
With a winning record and a playoff berth firmly in their minds, simply qualifying for the postseason is not going to satisfy March.
“Our goal is to represent our league at the Cyclone Taylor Cup,” he said. The Eagles host Revelstoke Saturday at 7 p.m. and the Chase Heat on Sunday at 2 p.m. Both at Sicamous Recreation Centre.