Players and coaches from Golden’s Atom Rockets are celebrating a banner year that saw the team roll through the Rockies Hockey League (RHL) and capture a league title.
The title was clinched with a decisive 7-4 victory over the Cochrane Hornets on Mar. 8. According to head coach Tyler Gulliford, the victory was the culmination of months of hard work from the players and coaching staff.
“We just came together as a team…we worked hard in practice…it came together really well,” Gulliford said.
“It shocked me that we did what we did this year…Having so many first year Atom kids and coming away like this is pretty huge for us. It’s a big accomplishment for our team and something to look forward to next year.”
Goaltender Rex Baxendale was named MVP of the championship game, but Gulliford stressed that it was a team effort throughout the year that brought the Atoms all of their success.
“It wasn’t one or two single guys that made us go through and that was (the same) throughout the whole year. It wasn’t one or two individuals it was the whole team,” Gulliford said.
This was the first year that Golden competed in the RHL, a move that allowed the team to cut down on travel time and play even more games than in previous years. A few of their players were called up from the Novice level and most of their roster had their first year as Atoms this season, so the bulk of the roster should be returning for the 2015/2016 season.
Gulliford is hoping that a few of the participants in the widely successful Bauer First Shift program will join Golden Minor Hockey next year and add to their numbers at the Atom level.
“The Bauer program is a huge success. Words can’t explain how successful it is,” he said. “Starting out I was thinking it was going to be 15 kids max and here we are over (capacity) at 46.
“And the kids love it so hopefully they come back next year.”
While nothing is official yet, Gulliford hinted that there could be an extension of the First Shift program this fall to build on the skills that players have developed across the beginner program.
Golden Minor Hockey will host their end of year awards banquet Mar. 29.