High hopes for hockey

BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Clarkston icers skate their way into their first games this week to start the 2019-2020 Winter season.
“Early indications are it’s going to be a lot of fun this year,” said Karl Daiek, head coach for Clarkston Varsity Hockey. “It’s fun every year but it’s different every year. We are looking forward to it.”
As of last Thursday, the team had only a few practices and Daiek added it’s been hard to tell how the mix of new players and returners blend together.
“We are going to be good. Whenever you get new people in the program you need to make sure they fit without too much chaos,” he said. “Last year we struggled for six weeks with all the new people. Then, we finally got it figured out. Hopefully we don’t have to go that long this year.”
The Wolves start out this season with a road trip to Alpena for a tournament to see how they stack up against competition and get to know each other.
“I do like a road trip early,” Daiek said. “They know each other from school but they don’t know each other as being teammates. Usually everyone goes to the rink, then goes their separate ways. It gives us an opportunity for the boys to bond and team building. This gives them the opportunity to ease our way into the season.”
He added the season won’t be easy as the Wolves moves into the Oakland Activities Association Red division and will play each of the teams in the league twice.
“It will be competitive,” Daiek said. “The league is going to be tough. It always is.”
The tough competition will continue in games outside of the league as they have picked up games against teams with competitive programs.
“I don’t see any easy games this year,” Daiek said. “I don’t anticipate mercies at all this year, where last year we ended up with mercies in five to six different games. We are playing those teams. We aren’t playing against teams just to fill slots. The competitive level in my estimation is a little bit stronger.”
The Wolves play FNV Griffins on Friday at 4 p.m., and University of Liggett on Saturday at 12 p.m. Both games are at Northern Lights Arena in Alpena.
“We will know early on how we stack up, and how much work we will have to do to get a lot better if we aren’t stacking up,” Daiek said. “Just because you are able doesn’t mean you are going to be able to do it. You have to do stuff to get you to the level you want to be at. We have the capability to be very good competitively.”
The team follows with the Cranbrook Thanksgiving Tournament with Cranbrook, Brighton and Salem, Nov. 29-30.
“Cranbrook and Brighton both had state championship teams in the last six years and top level programs,” Daiek added. “Salem is a very good program as well.”