The Pembina Valley Hawks AAA bantam hockey team has a new leader.
Second-year player Ben Dalke has taken the captain’s ‘C’ from former Hawk Colt Conrad, who put up a spectacular 150 points last season.
Dalke, a forward from La Salle, was selected as captain by the Hawks’ coaching staff. He hopes to provide a combination of scoring and leadership to the team.
"I had a fair amount of ice time last year as a (rookie) on the team. Also, I try to lead by example and have people look up to me," he said.
The Hawks are coming off a successful season. In the first year of the Manitoba rural bantam AAA league, the Hawks won the league championship.
They went on to defeat the Winnipeg Warriors, winners of the city AAA bantam league, in the provincial final. That earned them a berth in the Western Canadian championship where they finished third.
The Hawks have gotten off to a slow start this season. Going into their Nov. 17 game against the Yellowhead Chiefs, they had five wins, six losses and one overtime loss.
Dalke said that he believes the Hawks will turn things around.
"Right now the effort is there. We just need to work on our systems and get used to our linemates," he said. "It’s coming along, but we still need a bit of work."
The 14-year-old Dalke hopes his optimism will motivate his teammates to improve their performance. His positive attitude is something he and his dad, Kelly, have discussed at length.
"Character-wise, the captaincy has helped Ben understand his players better and mature as a person," Kelly said.
Adam Dufresne is another Hawk from La Salle. As a rookie on the team, he has had to pay his dues, which sometimes means sitting squished in the middle seat of the car when travelling to arenas.
The speedy 13-year-old forward is coming off a season playing hockey in the RM of Macdonald. It’s his first year playing in the rural bantam AAA league, but he’s already starting to fit in with the Hawks.
"Coming to the team, I only knew a couple of people. Now we’re starting to bond and come together as a team," Dufresne said.
He added that as the Hawks grow closer, he expects their record to improve as well.
Other Hawks members from The Headliner’s coverage area include alternate captain Brady Pouteau (Oak Bluff) and fellow defenceman Brock Shwaluk (La Salle).