The first day of a new sports season comes with plenty of excitement, there’s even more thrill when it involves coming off a USHL title.
“I mean it’s only day one and you can already see guys are sweating, getting better, I can already tell it’s going to be a great year," said Stampede forward Jared Westcott.
Just three and a half months after raising the Clark Cup Trophy, the Sioux Falls Stampede return to the rink on Monday for the first day of a new chapter.
“After winning last year, obviously we want to go back and try and do that again, and everyone is hungry to do that. I think the new kids know that too, we’ve set the bar here high with this great organization and we really want to win," said Stampede forward Ryan Sullivan.
This year though the Herd face the challenge of having a much younger roster having Westcott and Sullivan as the only full time players back. The Stampede also return the fewest USHL players of any team in the league.
“That happens after a Clark Cup team. I mean that was a good team and players move on. We were young, we had some young bodies last year, but I think last year will help us as a staff knowing the things to work on and look at. We’re going to be young, but I’m not going to harp that, we’re just going to try and get better each month," said fifth year Head Coach Scott Owens.
“There’s definitely pressure because you won the Clark Cup last year, you won the best thing you can get. So you want to do it again every year, you always want to win. So I don’t want to say intimidation, definitely not intimidated coming in, but lots of pressure and I think we have the team to do it. We only have one practice, but we have a lot of speed, a lot of size, great coaches, great goalies, we really go everything, it’s just a marathon to get to the finals," said rookie forward Cam MacDonald.
The Herd are no strangers to this fresh look, last season Sioux Falls only had four returns, as they wen to win their third championship in franchise history.
“I think everyone here just realizes that we need to pay attention more. I mean we know they know how to win, we did it last year, and just buying into their systems, listening and not trying to be too much of your own player, play as the team and just listening to the coaches and everything kind of falls into place together," said Westcott.
Despite the first day jitters and the targets on their back for a repeat season, the team is aware of the high standard that this program has set.
“We as staff have to be careful that we don’t just try to think that we’re going to automatically pick up where we left off. We have to be patient with young guys, we have to be very communicative. There’s just a lot of things we as a staff have to do well," said Owens.
The Stampede open up the regular season on September 28th with the Fall Classic against Des Moines.