Less than halfway through the hockey season, the Golden Rams midget team was told they were invited to this year’s midget tier 4 provincial Championships to be held in Nakusp on March 18 to 23.
“We’re the only representative in the Kootenays for a midget tier 4 team, so basically after Dec. 1 we knew we were guaranteed to go to the Championships if we wanted to go,” said Head Coach William Soles. “And we definitely want to go. We’ll be small numbers going, but big in heart.”
This is the first time in a couple years that Golden has had the numbers to support a midget team. In the past, boys ages 15 to 17 had to travel to Invermere to play.
“And this year Invermere doesn’t have a team, so I don’t know what we would have done with our players,” said Soles, who also acts as the district coach co-ordinator for BC Minor Hockey.
The team has 12 skaters and two goalies, making it difficult if anyone gets sick or hurt.
“What we did was we made some phone calls, we got some kids who haven’t played hockey in three years that came back to play. It’s great to see, and it gives kids an opportunity to play,” said Soles.
“I’ve been coaching for 20 years. And I actually coached the Rockets for their first two years… Then my son started playing, and I’ve been coaching off and on since then,” said Soles.
“He’s a really good coach, and he knows lots about the game,” said 15-year-old Braden Allkins with the Golden Rams.
The youngest player on the team, Allkins is very happy to no longer be travelling to Invermere all the time.
“It’s a lot nicer having a team here, we don’t have to go down there for practices now. And it’s going really well with the team getting along, there are no real fights. It’s been great.”
“It’s a good group of kids, and great parents. That’s huge. The parents and the coaching staff and the kids all get along, so it’s been a really good core. And that makes my job easy, when everybody is on board,” said Soles. “All my coaches have been great, and our manager John Desrosiers is fantastic.”
The team has had a fairly successful start to the season. They’ve won two tournaments, including the one they hosted in Golden in December.
“I think we have great penalty killing, our power play had been very kind to us. It’s just a matter of taking practice to the game, and preaching to the kids that what you do in practice you will take to the game. Try to keep them focused, to take those skills,” said Soles.
“We’ve been playing very well. Going into Christmas break we played our home tournament and won it for the first time in probably five or six years, so that was a good weekend. And we went to a tournament in Springbank in Alberta, we won that tournament also. But now coming back in January, with a two and a half week break, it’s kind of starting over again, like it’s a new season. Hopefully we’ll be ready by the time the Championships come around.”
The team is planning some fundraising in the next couple of months to help get them to Championships.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids. Some of them may never get to go again. It’s a lot of fun, it will be a great week,” said Soles.