Just two games into the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League season, the Elks have shown signs of a team that is ready to turn a corner and end a long playoff drought.
Thursday, the hometown fans will get a look at that squad, as the Elks host the Sackville Blazers in their home opener at the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good team this year; a lot of compete so far, a lot of guys with a lot of skill,” said third-year forward Cole Fielding.
“We’ve got a good group of guys working hard and really pushing, and we haven’t been (in the playoffs) in a while so we just really want to work and make everyone proud around here.”
The Elks last made the playoffs during the 2012-13 season. In each of the years that have followed, they’ve occupied the basement of the Fred Fox Division, including last season when they posted a dismal 9-21-1-1 record.
First-year head coach Shane Robar said key to achieving success is changing the dressing room culture.
“Making sure the guys are committed to being here, wanting to be here and making it a desirable place for people to actually want to play,” said Robar.
The Elks have two losses to start the season, but have earned a single point in each of those contests after an overtime setback to the East Hants Penguins and a shootout defeat at the hands of the Blazers.
“The battle level is there … and you know, if were going to lose games we might as well get a point out of losing them, so I see those as positives and a step forward and we’re only going to get better," Robar said.
The Elks roster consists of about 10 players from HRM, while the remaining players are Colchester County athletes, all of whom bring different skill-sets to the club.
“We’ve got a group of talented fellas and the biggest thing is just unleashing that talent and putting the guys in the right situations and putting them in spots where they’re going to be successful,” said Robar.
The Elks opened training camp in early September at the RECC and Colchester Legion Stadium in Truro. After two road games to start the season, they stepped on sportsplex ice in Brookfield for the first time on Tuesday for practice.
“It’s nice to get home, especially with us having games in hand on the teams above us,” Robar said. “We’ve got to close that gap and take advantage of those games right now by getting Ws on the board. So coming home here, having our first practice here and moving into the dressing room and having our home opener on Thursday night, it’s going to be a good atmosphere.”
Following Thursday’s contest, the Elks visit the Cole Harbour Colts on Friday. Their next home game is Thursday, Oct. 12 against the Cumberland County Blues.
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Elks dedicate season to longtime volunteers
BROOKFIELD, N.S. – Two longtime volunteers will be honored Thursday by the Brookfield Elks before their Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League home opener against the Sackville Blazers.
Betty Carter and Susie Smith, both dedicated volunteers with the club, will be recognized during a ceremony.
Betty sold game tickets for the Elks for 18 years. She passed away last June.
Susie performed a variety of volunteer duties for the team. She passed away last April.
“Both of them were real good volunteers in the community,” said board member Don Harvey, who worked alongside both ladies for several years.
“Betty worked real hard for many years and Susie filled in for every job out there, even a security guard one night.”
Betty’s daughter, Dawn Carter-Henderson, and Susie’s uncle, Sid Johnson, will drop the ceremonial puck prior to the contest, which gets under way at 7:30 p.m.
The Elks have dedicated the 2017-18 season to Betty and Susie.