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Blizzard ready for competitive 2019-2020 season

  • In Sports
  • September 26, 2019
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The wait is finally over – the OCN Blizzard opened their 2019-20 campaign last night (Sept. 26) at home against the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
The delayed start was partly due to the change in ownership this summer, and the new staff not being in place to lock down a game on the opening weekend. But every team still plays 60 games in the regular season, and the Blizzard face a Wolverines team who captured the final playoff spot last year, and who are off to a strong start this season.
The Wolverines opened the season with a two-game sweep over the Neepawa Natives, who were expected to be more competitive this season after mustering only nine victories last year. But the Wolverines had their way with them, beating them 4-0 at home and 4-1 in Neepawa.
Brandon native Jaymes Knee led the team with a pair of goals and four points in the two games. Rookie Tyler Shetland and veteran Gerrick Ripley each added three points in the two wins.
The Wolverines also played a third game last week, as they hosted the Dauphin Kings last night.
OCN associate coach Ryan Wood says his team will have a stiff test early in this season.
“We got to play Wayway a couple of times in the exhibition, though the first game was probably not close to their regular roster (the traditional rookie game coming out of training camp),” said Wood. “They definitely have a good club there, with some veteran guys and good experienced players.
“It will be a battle, and we’ll definitely have to bring our A-game.”
Wood said he was looking forward to playing in front of a large and loud crowd for the opener.
As for how the new coach is settling into the area, and what he thinks of his new squad, Wood sounds full of enthusiasm and is eager for his team to start playing games that count in the standings.
“Everything is going good, with Greg Hunter (the team’s general manager) and the new ownership – we have a great group of guys that are working hard to put a strong product on the ice,” he said. “We want to change the perception of the organization, and rebuild to the glory days, of how it was back in the early 2000s and late 1990s.
“The team was a perennial powerhouse then, and we want to get back to those days, knowing it will take some time,” he added. “We like the direction we’re going in, but we know it’s not going to happen overnight.”

BLIZZARD BITS

The Blizzard follow their home opener with a trip down south for three games in three nights. First they head to Winkler to take on the Flyers Saturday night (Sept. 28). Then they head to Winnipeg for the MJHL Showcase – which is back to being in the early part of the season, rather than early December. The Blizzard will face the Neepawa Natives on Sunday, and finish up with the Virden Oil Capitals on Monday. The two Winnipeg games will take place at the Seven Oaks Sportsplex … Cory Checco is the team’s top returning point getter from last season with 25 points.

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