Head Coach Trevor Letowski says the goal of the Sarnia Sting is pretty simple this year.
“Win hockey games,” he told The Journal.
After struggling to just 17 victories and finishing last overall in the Ontario Hockey League last season, Letowski says he and his coaching staff are doing more teaching and requiring players to pay more attention to detail.
“We wanted players to understand that it was going to be different this year, and I think we have accomplished that to this point,” he said. “I'm excited to get started.”
The Sting open the season this weekend with a pair of games on the road. They play in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday, Sept. 26 and Saginaw the next night. In fact, Sarnia plays 12 of its first 17 games away from the cozy confines of the RBC Centre.
“My message as a coach is, ‘Let's really bear down and get some road wins early and that will put us ahead of the curve,’” said the sophomore bench boss.
With a good mix of returnees and rookies on the roster, Coach Letowski is especially eager to see the development of the team’s two blue-chip prospects, Jakob Chychrun and Pavel Zacha.
“Their approach to the game is just incredible,” he said. “As coaches we are very lucky to have two elite players like that who are doing the right thing both on and off the ice.”
One player who won't be suiting up for a while is Noah Bushnell. The second year bruiser was handed a 10-game suspension by the league following a dust-up in a pre-season game against the London Knights. He’s not eligible to return until Oct. 24.
The Sting's home opener is Friday, October 3 when the Barrie Colts come to town.
Activities begin with a tailgate party at 3 p.m. with live music, games, contests and a refreshment area, and continue till game time at 7:05 p.m. Several members of the original 1994-95 team will attend the game and be introduced during the ceremonies.
The Sting will wear replicas of the jerseys worn by the inaugural team. The jerseys will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds going to the Sting's new local charitable arm, the Sarnia Sting Foundation.
“It's a night that we're certainly looking forward to,” said Sting President Bill Abercrombie.