The inaugural season for the Sylvan Lake Senior Pirates has come to an end after the first round of playoff.
The Pirates faced the formidable Red Deer Rustlers, also in their first season, in Round One of playoffs in the North Central Senior Hockey League.
In the first three games of the best-of-five series, the Pirates were unable to secure a win, and ended the season with a 6-1 loss on Feb. 2.
Pirates Vice President Dallas Hand said he was proud of how far the team came in the season.
“We had realistic expectations right from the start,” said Hand, who started out the season playing on the team.
“Making it to playoff alone in the first season, is a great accomplishment for us.”
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The Pirates finished the regular season in seventh place, just enough to make it to the first round of playoffs.
Hand says after seeing the first round in the team’s first year, the goal is to go even further next year.
In facing the Rustlers in playoffs, Hand says the team knew they were in for a fight.
“We had a number of injuries right before playoffs began … Red Deer was at an advantage over us,” said Hand.
With three straight losses to the Rustlers, the Pirates are looking towards their second season, hopefully with more games in Sylvan Lake at the NexSource Centre.
“The two games we played in Sylvan Lake were huge for us. We saw a lot of support from those games,” Hand said.
With one season under the team’s belt, the Pirates are looking to create more awareness for the club.
Hand says there are still a large number of people in Sylvan Lake who are unaware of the new hockey team.
He hopes by the start of next season the Pirates will have an expanded fan base.
“A major goal for us, going into next season, is to secure permanent ice time at the NexSource Centre,” he said.
Another priority for the Pirates is finding local talent.
Hand says there are many talented hockey players in Sylvan Lake, and he hopes to see they come out for the team.
“We’ve already had a few guys come to us, who are interested in being on the team.”
Hand says the team also worked throughout the season to raise funds for local charities. During the 2018-19 season, the Pirates were able to raise more than $1,000 for local charities.
The funds were raised during the team’s home games over the course of the season.
“It is important to us to really cement ourselves in Sylvan Lake,” said Hand.
Hand wanted to thank the fans and sponsors for attending games, especially with the first season held almost entirely in Bentley.
He said he was also appreciated all the volunteers who worked on the team, both on the ice and off.
“Every person on the team, from the top to the players, are all volunteers. No one profits from the team.”
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