Leduc hosting Wetaskiwin in Friday night opener
The Leduc Riggers open up their season on home ice tonight against a familiar opponent.
The Wetaskiwin Icemen eliminated Leduc from last year's playoffs, and visit the LRC at 8:00 pm.
Riggers Head Coach Carter Huebner says his team remembers how last year ended.
"100% - especially us coaches. I know our older vets as well, because you've grown up playing against Wetaskiwin your whole life, you just kind of became natural with that rivalry. Whether it's the first game of the year or the last game of the year, there's always that rivalry. Guys want to play hard and guys want to win, and there's that extra little motivation because they were the team to knock us out last year," he said.
Huebner says a lot of players on the ice that night are returning to the Riggers this year.
"I probably got about two-thirds returning from last year, and then I got a really good group of core guys that are coming up through Midget, and they're all from Leduc, which is awesome for us to have. It's something that we've kind of lacked in the last few years. It's nice that we've got an older group that played together, as well as a new young generation coming through the system."
He says one of those younger local players is Colby Laird, who got valuable experience as an Affiliate Player in the playoffs last year.
On the veteran side, Huebner says forward Tyler Smith is back along with twin leading scorers Parker and Dakota Huebner.
He says there's also plenty of stability in the crease this season.
"We have both of our returning goalies from last year. They already know our coaching style and philosophy, they already know our expectactions - whether it's practices, games, preparation. So that's really nice to have. They've definitely both improved over the offseason, you can see that they've gotten a little bigger, a little stronger."
Huebner is coming off his first year behind the Riggers bench, during which he was named CJHL Coach of the Year.
Following tonight, the team visits Stony Plain next Wednesday.