West Ranch hockey opens its Los Angeles Kings High School Hockey League slate tonight against the El Segundo Strikers at Ice Station Valencia.
The Wildcats will take the ice with the LAKHSHL crown in mind after falling to Kern County in the semifinals last year.
“Our goal is to work harder than every team out there,” said senior forward Justin Badillo.
They’ll be doing so with new head coach Chris Greene, who was an assistant coach for the Wildcats last summer. He brings knowledge and professional hockey experience to the team.
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“He knows the game well, he has a good background, he connects well with all the kids,” Badillo said. “He’s just a real influential coach. I think that we all grow off of him and we all learn a lot.”
Greene ramped up the Cats’ offseason conditioning routine, sending them to a conditioning camp and increasing time spent doing on- and off-ice workouts.
They also competed in and won the IHE Labor Day Tournament, which consisted of ten teams, in early September.
It’s all in an attempt to make West Ranch’s already high-voltage offense even more powerful.
“We’re really working on just putting gas much pressure as we can on teams,” said Badillo.
“I think mostly this year we’re executing and we’re working as hard as we can. We’re conditioning, there’s a lot more discipline. I think this year we’re all looking forward to going far.”
Badillo is one of the top returners on offense after totaling 13 points in 16 games last season.
Luke Boss, who notched 18 points last season and Josh Watts, who had 22 points, will be back, too.
In tonight’s matchup, the Wildcats take on a Strikers team that went 4-11 last year in league and finished third-last, above the Valencia Vikings and the Santa Clarita Cobras.
“We’re really looking forward to bringing it to them and showing them everything we’ve learned,” said Badillo.