The Sooke Thunderbirds didn’t get off to a hot start, but as their season continues, there are signs of a change in trajectory.
At the rink, Sooke’s Midget A minor hockey team struggled through its annual tiering months in September and October. It started well enough with a last-minute loss to Campbell River and a 5-0 thumping of Cowichan Valley.
The wheels soon fell off when the Thunderbirds were hit with the injury bug and some players had commitments with their summer teams. The result? Coach Martin Knowles was forced to ice a team with 10 or 11 skaters.
“We didn’t tier where we wanted,” said Knowles, with the Thunderbirds missing the cut to play in the Tier 2 division and relegated to Tier 3.
“The boys know it’s not about winning hockey games in October or November. It’s about winning hockey games in February and March. We’ll be ready then.”
The Thunderbirds’ team character was more identifiable in recent back-to-back wins with victories over Kerry Park (4-1) and Peninsula (8-3).
Knowles referenced those wins for what the Thunderbirds are trying to build.
Luckily, the coaching staff has nine returning players, with the backbone of the team starting in the back end with the goal-tending tandem of Nick Haisell and Bryce Carroll.
The defence is manned by veterans Finley Arthurs, Grant Jay and Craig Phipps, while Braydon Friesen powers the forward lines.
“We’re pretty even throughout, but I’d say we’re more offensively gifted than defensively,” Knowles said.
“We’re the type of team that can play any style. We can play a skilled fast game, and when it gets a bit rough we can throw our weight around.”
The Thunderbirds head to Merritt for a tournament the weekend of Nov. 17-18.