Neepawa Natives set to begin regular season; team captain yet to be named


NeepawaNativesBy: Lanny Stewart

The 2012-2013 regular season is about to begin for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Neepawa Natives.  The Natives wrapped up their eight-game pre-season schedule last Sunday and will look to get off to a good start this season when they host the Steinbach Pistons tonight and the Winkler Flyers on Sunday at the Yellowhead Centre.  The junior 'A' club finalized its roster recently and assistant coach Cam Tibbett is excited about how the team looks on paper.  "I think we've got a good group of guys here," he said. "We're happy with our team. We think we're going to be youthful and we're going to be fast." 

This year's roster includes Clarke Rempel, who is a former member of the Neepawa Tigers of the Westman High School Hockey League. The forward helped the Tigers win the league title and provincial A/AA championship earlier this year.  Other players from around the area on the squad include defencemen Clayton Heinrichs from Brandon, Lyndon Soper of Gladstone as well as forwards Landon Thomson from MacGregor and Rhett Law from McCreary 
Other notables on the roster include Derrick Brooks, Justin Dalebozik, Robby Moar and Cody Hoy. All four forwards finished in the top-five in team scoring last season.  On the blueline, Troy Hoban is one of three returnees from a year ago. Hoban, 19, from West St. Paul Minn., finished in a tie for fourth on the team is assists with 16 last year. Ryley Pace and the aforementioned Soper are the other two returning defencemen. 
Meanwhile in net, Corey Koop is expected to be the main man between the pipes this year. The 20-year-old netminder was acquired from the Winkler Flyers in May. The Squamish, B.C. product played 22 games in the regular season for the Flyers a year ago, posting a 22-10 record, a 3.36 goals against average and a .900 save percentage.  "He's a 20-year-old goaltender that's had success in this league," said Tibbett of Koop. "He's going to be our No. 1 starter."  Jeff Stallard from Brandon will be the team's backup. Stallard spent time with the MMHL's Parkland Rangers a year ago.  "We've got a great backup in (Jeff) Stallard," continued Tibbett. "Whenever he gets called upon, he'll be ready to go. We have confidence in both of our goalies." 
Tibbett says the club has yet to name a team captain, but plan to do so in the not-too-distant future. 
Neepawa finished in last place in the Sher-Wood Division a year ago, winning only 12 games. 

The following is a listing of the 2012-2013 Neepawa Natives roster: 

Corey Koop
Jeff Stallard 

Clayton Heinrichs
Joel Warkentin
Matthew Boha
Troy Hoban
Ryley Pace
Lyndon Soper
Tyler Durdle
Jordan Denesiuk 

Justin Dalebozik
Bryn MacNab
Robby Moar
Clarke Rempel
Craig Sigvaldason
Derrick Brooks
Landon Thomson
Kellen MacBlain
Sawyer Jacobson
Rhett Law
Carter Zalluski
Drake Lindsay
Cody Hoy
TJ Sneath