L to R: Rylan Olson

Lakers selected to play for elite Red Deer hockey team

“It’s a more elite level of hockey and not everybody can go play it.” Coach Shawn Olson

Three players from the Sylvan Lake Lakers minor hockey program have been selected to play for 2006 Red Deer Rustlers AAA hockey team this year.

The three eight-year-old boys are Rylan Olsen, Bode Dakin and Logan Yanick.

Dynamite minor hockey coach Shawn Olson said he’s proud of the players’ respective accomplishments, as the boys are among just 13 selected from a pool of 40 to 50.

“It’s a more elite level of hockey and not everybody can go play it,” Olson said. “You have to try out for it.”

The players attended three one-hour tryout sessions, where coaches narrowed their selections down after each session.

Being able to score goals isn’t the only skill coaches look for when selecting players, Olson said; they are looking for all kinds of skills, such as teamwork and listening skills.

“If you’re not a team guy and they know that, they won’t pick you,” Olson said. “Anyone can go play winter hockey for fun. This is fun too, but it’s more competitive. It turns you into a very good hockey player. It’s a league-level coaching. These guys are learning from the best coaches around.”

Playing on the team will give the players two months of extra playing time, as the hockey season typically ends in March.

In April and May, they will play in five tournaments, and games every weekend.

The players will play their tournaments with other elite level teams from around the province, including places such as Jasper, Kelowna, Edmonton and Calgary.

Olson said the point is not about winning, but rather, development and allowing players the chance to meet new friends from different places — the team consists of players from Red Deer, Lacombe, Bentley, Innisfail and Caroline.

“You get to meet other kids, parents get to meet other families and you have lifelong friends,” Olson said. “That’s what it’s more about.”