Bigger and better is the way to make it happen.
That’s the approach Riley Simms took when he prepared for the 2018-2019 hockey season as he focused on earning a roster spot with the Western Kings entry in the provincial major midget hockey league.
Simms, a 16-year-old resident of Corner Brook, was limited to three games with the Kings last season as one of the franchise’s alternate players for the 2017-2018 season. It was his first year of midget hockey and he finished up playing for the Western Knights minor midget hockey team.
Simms admits it was tough to crack the roster in his first year as the Kings boasted a dozen or so returning players in their final year.
However, he figured his chances of earning a spot would be better this year if he came into camp prepared to battle for a spot.
He earned a roster spot as one of the team’s forwards and has enjoyed being part of a new group of guys who are eager to compete for a championship.
He put a lot of hard work in over the summer months to get ready. He made regular visits to the gym to work on building up his stamina and strength in an effort to beef up his lean five-foot-11 body and made a commitment to eating healthier.
He went into camp weighing 180 pounds — 25 pounds heavier than when he tried to keep up with the big boys in his first year.
The Kings opened the season with three-straight losses to the East Coast Blizzard on home ice, but the scores were close, and Simms felt good about how the team pulled together for opening weekend.
He believes everybody will have to improve their conditioning and buy into a team game to make life better for everyone.
He’s excited about being a King and expects his team to get better with each game.
“The confidence definitely went up and I’m definitely ready for the season,” he said.
The quest to get a win in the books starts tonight when the Kings open a three-game series at home against the defending champion St. John’s Maple Leafs.
Friday, Sept. 14
8 p.m. — St. John’s Maple Leafs vs Western Kings
Saturday, Sept. 15
7 p.m. — St. John’s Maple Leafs vs Western Kings
Sunday, Sept. 16
11:30 a.m. — St. John’s Maple Leafs vs Western Kings