Red Wings open training camp

The High Prairie Red Wings opened training camp Sept. 21 to prepare for their second season in the Greater Metro Junior Hockey League. New head coach and co-general manager Kevin Hopfner, standing middle, prepares to draw up plays during one of the training sessions at the Sports Palace.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The High Prairie Red Wings take to home ice Oct. 3 to open their second season in the Greater Metro Junior Hockey League.

High Prairie hosts the Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawks at the Sports Palace at 7:30 p.m.

New head coach and co-general manager Kevin Hopfner is excited to welcome several new players he believes will strengthen the Red Wings who finished second in the three-team West Division last year.

“With the quality of players on the team, fans can expect to see a high-powered offence with a lot of goal scoring, which makes the game very exciting,” Hopfner says.

He is eager to start the 2020-21 season with new and returning players, who have worked hard since camp opened Sept. 21.

“The team is looking very strong,” says Hopfner, who played for the High Prairie Regals in the North Peace Hockey League in the 1980s.

“I expect to be a contender for the West Division championship.”

He says the Red Wings will be in a battle in the division that also includes the Slave Lake Icedogs and newcomer Fox Creek Ice Kings.

“It’s tough to say at this point who the top contender will be because we haven’t played any games,’ Hopfner says.

“However, I do see the Red Wings in the mix along with Enoch and Slave Lake.

“With the returning veteran core, we will definitely be a contender in the division.”

A blend of new and returning players has strengthened the team.

“We have added several offensive-minded defencemen and a couple of solid forwards,” Hopfner says.

More local flavour has been added to the Red Wing roster.

“We signed about 15 new players to this point, including several local boys,” Hopfner says.

The GMHL is a stepping stone for many players in more than one way.

“Our goal, being a development league, is to help the boys become better hockey players and fine respected young men,” Hopfner says.

A maximum 100 fans will be allowed in the Sports Palace at one time to meet social distancing health orders in the cornonavirus [COVID-19].

Seating on only the north side of the arena will be opened.

Nobody will be allowed in front of the office and dressing room areas.

“All I can say regarding COVID restrictions is be kind, be safe, sanitize and come early to the rink,” Hopfner says.

The Red Wings also appreciate community support, even in the pandemic.

“Thanks to the community and my old teammates and coaches for making me and the Red Wings feel so welcome,” Hopfner says.

The scheduled was not finalized by Sept. 25 as the GMHL considers a format where teams would play a home-and-home series one weekend, then wait two weeks to play another opponent in a home-and-home series in a 42-game regular season.

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