Gary Gill believes the foundation for success has been laid for the Cheyenne Stampede.
Well into training camp at this point, and less than a month away from the season, the Stampede are moving forward in their quest to position themselves to be one of the better teams in the Western States Hockey League this season.
â€œWe have put the foundation down, and now we are working on building the house,â€ said Gill, who is in his first season as the head coach of Cheyenne. â€œThe guys are making progress and doing what they need to in order to be ready for the season. Weâ€™re happy with the direction we are going in.â€
Cheyenne wonâ€™t begin playing until Oct. 18 when it opens the season against the Colorado Jr. Eagles. However, in September, the Stampede did play a pair of exhibition games against Colorado State University.
Gill said several players stood out in those games, including returning players Heath Lantz and Russell Ambruster. He said the games provided his team with a chance to test itself against solid competition.
Both games were close as the Stampede lost 2-1 both times. The second game went into overtime.
â€œIt was a good opportunity to see how we handle game situations as a team,â€ Gill said. â€œI thought we had a no-quit attitude in both games. You can practice all you want, but until you get into game situations, you donâ€™t know how guys are going to respond. We did a good job and not only did we see some positives, but we also got an idea of what we need to work on as a team.â€
The fact that Cheyenne does not start its season until mid-October is not a concern for Gill. In fact, he is happy his team has extra time to get ready for the year ahead.
â€œWe have more time to get everything set and figure out what is going to work for us and what isn’t going to work,â€ Gill said. â€œEveryone is working hard and I’m excited about the potential of this team.â€
Having two extra weeks to get ready certainly canâ€™t hurt the Stampede, which is hoping to contend for a league title and playoff berth this season.
â€œOur guys are very focused because they know what is at stake this season,â€ Gill said. â€œWe arenâ€™t going to take any team lightly because this is a tough league and you have to show up to play to be successful.â€