Fall Summary - "We are getting better every day, step by step and day by day."
The first few months of the Gibbons Pioneers junior hockey season may lead one to have cause for concern. But not within the Pioneers locker room. All those involved with the organization from the athletes to coaches to volunteer staff know that ‘Change is (still) Coming’. Although the Pioneers have played many of their initial games with a short bench, they continue to add quality players to the roster each week. The team is focused on culture first and won’t allow just anyone to wear the Pioneer crest.
Coach Arsenault has been selective in adding to his team – it’s not enough to be a body on the ice, athletes need to buy in to the team philosophy of hard work, pride and commitment. “Our primary focus has been on culture and setting the new Pioneers standard. We are in a rebuild and only in the second year of being an expansion team. We are starting to see the buy in and players live that standard which leads to an improvement in team culture and individual development. We set micro-goals as a coaching staff, as a team and as individual athletes. We are focused on those micro-goals not the scoreboard at the moment. The challenges we are facing will only make us better by tackling them. We are focused on building champions in the dressing room and on the ice.”
The athletes similarly are not discouraged and have excitement for the remainder of the season. Despite facing a large number of shots each game, goaltenders Meric Larson, Nate Williams and Tyler Keyes are focused on putting their team in a position to win every night. Goaltender Meric Larson states “I stay focused by just saying ‘next shot, next shot’ even if it was a goal. You just focus on the next shot and don’t worry about goals or any mishaps. You can’t let yourself get in your head about mistakes. You just have to focus on what is going on right now in the game.”
The Pioneers are interested not only in winning hockey games but in developing quality athletes that have a respect for the game and quality men that have respect for themselves and others. The athletes have been seen contributing out in the community, whether it was at their Terry Fox Run through Gibbons raising $375 for the Terry Fox foundation, delivering donations to the Bon Accord – Gibbons Food Bank or shovelling snow for their neighbours.
The new Pioneers had an uphill battle from Day 1 starting with a blank bank account, zero equipment or resources and attempting to mend many broken relationships in the Gibbons and surrounding community. Just like their process on the ice, management and staff have worked tirelessly day by day and trusted that their values, integrity and hard work would help the organization succeed. They have formed relationships in the community with fans, volunteers, billets and businesses. But they could use more help! The Pioneers momentum is on an up swing with positives seen on the ice daily – from scoring in eight of their last ten games to multiple power play goals and incredible save percentages from all goaltenders. “Everyone has improved on the roster. It’s encouraging to see the amount of development we have seen from the players to date. That’s our purpose as coaches. There is still lots to learn and lots to work on but it’s all part of the process and we will eventually start to see it unfold on ice” assures Arsenault.
If you want to be part of the change and the new Pioneers, please reach out to any of their staff as they continue to welcome community business partners, billet families, volunteers and hockey fans.
If you haven’t checked out the Gibbons Pioneers yet, visit their website at gibbonspioneers.com, follow them on social media or check out a game at Gibbons Arena.
“We are getting better every day, step by step and day by day. It is part of the process and part of the plan. It will take some time but that’s what keeps us focused to keep pushing along.”