Olds Grizzlys will kick off the new AJHL season this weekend on the road and play a total of 6 games in 14 days. It all begins Sunday in Calgary against the Canucks, then they come home for 3 games before heading to Camrose for the AJHL Showcase.
After splitting 4 preseason games the Grizzlys have had a lot of time to work on systems, get acquainted with each other and get healthy. Head coach Adam Redmond says “we have been a little unlucky with many of our veterans not being able to start the season due to injury or illness, but we are very confident that the players still able to play will carry the load until we can get everyone back healthy.
It will be an 11-day break between the last preseason game and the regular season opener this Sunday in Calgary against the Canucks. Coach Redmond says, “our leadership group has been a huge asset moving forward in the right direction and the entire coaching staff is excited with how the team is shaping up.”
Associate Coach Joe Murphy who won a Centennial Cup with the Grizzlys as a player in 1994 says, “the coaching staff has asked the players to absorb a lot of information in a very short period of time, and we are all looking forward to having the games count for real.
It’s a whole new coaching staff, which means different systems and styles so with a good mix of veterans and newcomers, Murphy says, “the returning players have responded very positively to some changes and the new players are learning how to have success at this level. It's special to be a part of this process, and this organization.”
Skillz Skating and Shooting Center
Skillz SSC is thrilled at the opportunity to work with the Olds Grizzlys and The Friends of the Grizzlys. The rich hockey history and strong community support prove the viability and strength of hockey in Olds and South Central Alberta. Skillz SSC will be moving operations to Olds, in late 2017, to offer developmental opportunities to players of all ages in South Central Alberta. This will include an off ice developmental training facility (skating treadmill/shooting lab) and on ice development programs. Our presence will begin to be seen in October as we will be offering on ice and coach developmental support to Olds Minor Hockey. Our long-term goals are to build a developmental support network for players, coaches and families in Olds and South Central Alberta. Ultimately providing local development and playing opportunities for our athletes.
The Olds Grizzlys are off the endangered list and ready for another AJHL season.
The new look Olds Grizzlys are out of hibernation and hungry for the new AJHL regular season. After the threat of permanent hibernation, the Grizzlys have new ownership, a new coaching staff and a new outlook.
There were concerns in the Spring that the Grizzlys wouldn’t be starting the 2017/18 season in Olds, but some Grizz Alumni formed the “Friends of the Grizzlys” to provide financing and a board to keep the team in town and make them viable again.
The “Friends of the Grizzlys” consists of 10 Grizz Alumni, 7 businessmen, an Olds business and Olds Minor Hockey.
Curtis Sheptak – played for the Grizzlys from 1991-94. He won a national championship, got drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and went to Northern Michigan University on a hockey scholarship, then played professionally for 8 years.
Sheptak says “a big reason for my renewed commitment to the Grizzlys is because of their devoted supporters when I was part of the team. Dedicated people like Bob Clark, and the selfless hours that he and countless others put into the Olds community not only made my junior experience a positive one, but inspired me to pay it forward.”
Gary Lebsack – Grew up playing minor hockey in Red Deer, then played in Olds 1990-92, and on the Centennial Cup winning team in 93-94. Played in the WHL 92-93 & ECHL in 94-95.
“I joined the cause of the Friends of the Grizzly's to keep the team in Olds for both the players and the community and to fully support the great efforts of the individuals behind the organization which were being put forward to see the team thrive and prosper into the future.”
Josh Erdman – I started my junior hockey career with the Old's Grizzlys in '89/'90, the next season and a half I played in the WHL before returning to the Grizzlys until my final year of junior in '94/'95. I carried on to play at SAIT as well as 2 seasons in the Central Hockey League. Erdman, says, “I was given the opportunity to play in Olds at a very successful time in the franchise’s history, the lessons I learned from those times has given me an array of skills that I have used in both my professional and personal life. When I was asked to help support the Grizzlys there was no doubt my answer would be yes, given the chance to repay what so many supporters had done for me while I played here! I hope and am quite sure that the alumni of years to come will realize how important the lessons they have learned in Olds are, and in return when afforded the opportunity give back to the organization and community.”
Mike van Tetering – played for the Grizzlys from 1987-89. Being an alumni and long time resident of central Alberta, van Tetering says, “I felt that it was crucial the Grizzlys remain in the Olds area and continue to be an integral part of the community. When the news surfaced about the possibility of the team leaving, I felt compelled to do what I could to keep the team in Olds. I am very proud to be included in the group of owners, consisting of alumni and local business people that share the vision of long term success and sustainability of the Grizzlys Hockey Club in central Alberta.”
Mike Gayle – moved to Olds 3 years ago and being involved in coaching a local Junior B team, I have learned how important hockey is to the local community around Olds and area. Also, having been in business self-employed for 25 years I also know the importance of community support and giving back to the people whom have helped me and my family succeed in the growth of my business.
So, Gayle says, “when the opportunity came to help the Olds Grizzlys stay viable and stay as a local franchise I jumped at it without hesitation and want nothing more than to see the Grizzlys thrive.
Jason Jaskela – born and raised in Olds and played all his minor hockey in town. Jaskela says, “I got involved to positively impact Olds and area minor hockey organizations. The Grizz were important to the community and a big part of Olds and surrounding towns minor hockey when I was growing up. I am hopeful our plan/investment with the team and Skillz will improve minor hockey programs in the surrounding communities and provide more local kids the opportunity to play high-level junior hockey.”
Ed Hildebrand – Hildebrand Motors, long time supporter of the Olds Grizzlys. Hildebrand says, “I am involved because I feel that sports and in this case hockey can really pull a community together as we follow 'our' team. The Grizzlys also bring many visitors to town creating a large economic boost to many businesses either directly or indirectly. Olds needs the Grizzlys as much as the Grizzlys need Olds. Definitely a win-win situation.”
“Friends of the Grizzlys” also include Paul Hildebrand, Blake and Russ Parker, Scott Leatherdale, Richardson Brothers Construction and Olds Minor Hockey. Other former Grizzly players who make up “Friends of the Grizzlys” are Darcy Dallas, Ian Perkins, J.P Trottier, Mike van Tetering, Shawn Pitkanen and Dustin Borbandy.