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Friday, September 23, 2011

Leduc looks to stay near the top

Bantam AAA Oil Kings fueling up

By Bobby Roy
The Leduc bantam AAA Allen's Transport Oil Kings are ready for the regular season to start after finishing their exhibition games with a perfect 5-0 record.

But success in the preseason doesn't exactly translate to success in the regular season, explained Colin Gregor, head coach of the Oil Kings.

"The bottom line is we haven't lost yet, but we are playing teams that sat key players out. Exhibition game are there to make evaluations of the players and to make decisions on who is going to make the team," said Gregor.

"It's certainly a positive start, but we have a lot to work on this season and have a long way to go."

The bantam AAAs season began with a game against the Spruce Grove Saints on Sept. 22 away from home, but the results weren't available at the time of press.

With only one returning player from last year's squad, this year's bantam Oil Kings are very young and inexperienced playing at the bantam AAA level, which will likely mean it will take some time into the season before they are firing on all cylinders.

"I'm optimistic we'll have a competitive team, but we have a very inexperienced team. We have lots to work on, but we'll continue to get better as our guys get more experience at the bantam AAA level," added Gregor.

Last year's bantams finished in the second place in the Charger North division of the Alberta Minor Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL), which puts expectations high again for this year's team, but success will likely come as the team learns to play well together.

"We're going to play a team orientated style of hockey. I think we can be competitive in our division, but it's going to take a little time," said Gregor.

Balanced is the word Gregor described his team will need to be this year, but they've already showed signs of that in the five preseason games.

"We're going to have three solid pairings on defense and the same can be said for the forward lines. We also have two goaltenders who should be able to tend at this level," stated Gregor.

Working on the little aspects of the game such as faceoffs, killing penalties, capitalizing on powerplays, making sure everyone on the same page and several other factors is something the Oil Kings will spend a good amount of time in practice working on.

"We'll see how it goes, but there are several areas we need to work on," said Gregor.

Gregor is returning for his second straight year as the head coach and with last year's coaching staff intact for this year, the team is hungry.

"For me, it's a real good opportunity to work with the bantam players. The players are dialed in and hungry to make themselves better hockey players."

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