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Our goal? To be champions

Posted on November 23, 2021 by Maple Creek

Sean Chapman is the head coach of the Senior Maple Creek Hawks. Here he gives his thoughts on the 2021/22 season, which started on Friday. 

It is just after 9.30pm on a Wednesday. Sean Chapman is sitting alone in the Senior Hawks changing room, while his players slowly come off the ice after a third gruelling practice session since reforming. He glances around the room.
“My locker was over there,” he says, pointing.
From 1999 until about 2003, Chapman played for the Hawks, amassing a stack of happy memories, but finishing his playing days with a sense of unfinished business. Several times the team got to the final, but came up short.
“It would be nice to win one,” he says.
As head coach, he has another chance to put that right – and win the championship. It is the second goal that he has set himself and his team. The first one has already been achieved: getting out on the ice.
“It is awesome that we are back playing after 18 months. That’s the first goal.
“Secondly, we also want to be in the championship every year. Anything less, you might as well not play. That’s our mindset: to win the thing.”
Chapman was speaking at the Maple Creek Arena on November 17, two days before the Senior Hawks were due to play Shaunavon Badgers in the first game of the season in the White Mud Hockey League, which also features Cabri, Gull Lake and Frontier.
It was a hectic, 90-minute practice session, the best attended so far. Several out-of-town players had shown up.
“It was nice to see,” says Chapman, who has been coaching since 1996. “I was able to put the lines together, get some combinations figured out as far as that goes.
“So far, so good. It looks like we’ve got some guys who can handle the puck. We’ve got some wheels out there, we’ve got some young talent out there. I don’t know if we are going to be like we were a couple of years ago as far as depth is concerned, but if we have the right line-up on the ice we are going to be alright. I’m looking forward to it, getting going. It’s been like a year and a half that we haven’t been out on the ice. It’s crazy, isn’t it?”
Chapman says most of the players, who come from Maple Creek, Medicine Hat and communities like Fox Valley and Consul, have played together before; the few who haven’t should find assimilation easy.
“Hockey is hockey. When you’ve played it, you can adapt really quick,” he says. “We should be fine. Shaunavon will be in the same boat. They are getting going again after a year and a half and kind of getting their feet under them too. So, it’s going to be a couple of games before everybody is feeling really, really comfortable.
“The best thing to do is get out there, get your first shift in, work hard, maybe throw a body check, and then the butterflies are gone. You kind of roll from there.”
Chapman feels a spirit of camaraderie building up in his team.
“You can hear it out there. The guys are already teasing each other, chirping at each other, and having some fun.
“They are an easy group of guys to coach. Everybody wants to play a prominent role, but sometimes you just have to understand what your role is in the team.
“It’s my job to slot them in the proper slots and go from there, and if it’s not working, I’ll make some changes. I’ve got some people around me that have extensive hockey experience. They will give me ideas too, if they see something from the stands or whatever.”
Does he know his starting line-up?
“Yes, I do and I’m pretty excited.”
As a coach, Chapman has to deal with lots of moving parts in his team. He believes, however, there is a solid foundation on which to build. The full roster numbers 23, with an age range of 18 to about 30.
“The older guys bring the younger guys together and make sure they feel a part of it. There’s a good mix of players and we have enough for each position. We will be fine.”
Chapman believes the White Mud Hockey League will prove competitive, with evenly matched teams.
“It will be one of those leagues that if you don’t come to play any given night you can get beat. But if you come to play, you’ve got a chance every night.”
On paper, says Chapman, Cabri will be the team to beat.
“That’s fine. I don’t mind being the hunter. We will hunt them. We’ve played them tough every year when we’ve had to play them. I don’t see why this year will be any different. They will be good.
“Frontier always play tough in their rink and Gull Lake is always sneaky good. It’s a pretty good league, as far as parity goes.”
Chapman is confident that the Hawks can give home fans plenty to cheer about.
“In senior hockey, rosters change all the time, people come and go partway through the year, so you never know who you will be playing. If you put the right 20 guys on the ice, you have a chance to win in any given game. That’s all you can ask for.”

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