By Mike Stackhouse
Geoff Grimwood is only in year two as head coach of the Kindersley Klippers, but that doesn’t mean he’s a new face. “I’ve only been here a year and I feel like a new guy, but there are about five who have been hired around the league after I was, so I’m moving up the seniority chart pretty quick,” he laughs. “On a serious note, I wasn’t ever in an SJHL rink before getting hired and I was impressed, right away, with the calibre of play and the level of coaching the players were receiving. I have a lot of respect for all of the coaches. This year won’t be easier, but it does help to be familiar with the players. I’m more comfortable.”
Grimwood points to forwards Carson Pickett and Josh Bly as being two veterans up front to pick up some of the slack left vacant by graduating scorers such as Austin Calladine and Dexter Bricker. Grimwood also says defensemen Holden Daley and Clive Rozdeba will add to the leadership core and he’s also hopeful new goaltender Xavier Burghardt will justify the trade of Nathan Hargrave to the Weyburn Red Wings. “Nathan was a solid player and a great person for us, but we just felt getting an extra year of eligibililty with Burghardt was worth the chance.” Grimwood adds that with as many as five returning defensemen, the focus was on recruiting offense.
“Looking back on last year, I really don’t know what the expectations were at the time when the season started. It was so new to me and there were so few returning players. We wanted to establish the program as being a place where kinds want to play. We were happy to make the playoffs and we had a real good pre-Christmas schedule that, I think, we got a little excited and ended up being disappointed at the end of the year with our finish. But, that’s a good thing. We want to be disappointed if we are not doing well. We don’t want to be mediocre. One thing a lot of people didn’t realize was that we lost 250 man games to injury last year and used over 40 players so we had a lot of problems stabilizing the roster.”
Grimwood says he doesn’t set specific goals, but has a plan for where he wants to take the club. “When you look around the league and ask yourself who are the best franchises, I think Melfort and Battlefords come immediately to mind. Are we able to compete with them on a nightly basis? We need to get to their playing field. I don’t look at numbers, but we do want to be in a place that we haven’t achieved yet.”