Sandy Douglas is a huge fan of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and he wants to share his enthusiasm for the league.
The Lacombe native is testing the waters in his hometown to see if there’s enough interest to seriously investigate establishing an AJHL franchise in the City.
Douglas feels the community has lost its sports identity and a junior hockey franchise would solve the issue.
“Ponoka has in my opinion the best rodeo on earth, Red Deer has got major junior hockey and Olds has got the AJHL Grizzlies, Bentley has the Generals (senior hockey) and Lacombe has nothing,” said Douglas.
He agreed there are the high school sports, minor football and the Central Alberta Buccaneers which are all supported but nothing the entire community can stand behind like an AJHL team.
“It would take a lot of work and a lot of PR,” he said. “But the hockey team would promote Lacombe and if Lacombe, this beautiful little city of ours, would promote the hockey team, one would help the other.”
Douglas grew up with the famous Lacombe Rockets Senior hockey team as a source of pride which made the community stand out.
So why the AJHL? He points to the bond current teams in Olds, Okotoks and Camrose have with their fan base and would love to see a similar connection formed in Lacombe.
“It would take a lot of work and people would really enjoy it if they gave it a chance and came out to see the product.”
One of the biggest issues he faces aside from garnering support for the effort would be landing the right amount of ice time a junior franchise would need.
Currently Lacombe minor hockey teams are grabbing ice in nearby communities due to the shortage they face with the two rinks in the City.
Douglas says he understands this is a huge mountain to climb but he’s not about to pack it in anytime soon. ”I think a lot of people think I’m a little on the crazy side, I don’t but I’m not going to give in just because there’s obstacles because with anything good there’s obstacles.”
Douglas says he does have some insight about what this effort might entail through connections he has in the league so he’s tackling this with his eyes wide open. ”I’m not doing this just for me,” he said. “I’m serious. If a team was to be landed for the town I’d be happy to be in the dressing room just folding towels.”