A new local hockey team – the Stettler Imperials – is gearing up to hit the ice later this year.
“There are five of us who started this,” explained DJ Kisner of the senior men’s team. “It’s mostly for the guys in the squad who still want to play,” he added.
Regarding the initial start of the team, he said he and a few friends had been coaching and had had great success with the local Midget teams.
“We also saw how the city fared when we were in the play-offs and in the provincials as well,” he said. “There were three of us playing Junior B here in town too, and when we got ‘older’ there was no place to go to play – the closest place was an hour and a bit further away. he said, noting that at the time, the Big Valley team had moved to Eckville.
So that’s basically how the guys went in training.
“There used to be senior hockey in Stettler, so we looked at a few different leagues,” he said, adding that the whole process of building the team took a few years.
“I would say 2018 was the time we started coaching with Ryan, and we’ve been talking about a team throughout the season,” he said.
They were unsuccessful with their first request, but the second time around the doors opened and it was full steam ahead. “That was all in March 2020 – right before COVID-19 happened. “
It’s been a preparation process ever since including ordering jerseys and collecting local sponsorships.
“There are a few little touches here and there that we need to do, but all the important things (get done). We have our ice reserved, our plans have been reviewed – we also have our liquor license now so we can have beer gardens at our games.
They also plan to hold 50/50s to allow the Imperials to give back to the community in various ways.
“It’s something that we are aiming for is to be very involved in the community.
“One of the things we’re also most excited about is seeing how the community comes together behind the team. From our discussions with people regarding sponsorship and volunteering, a lot of people are very enthusiastic about us, which also boosts our enthusiasm, ”he explained.
“Just seeing how the community came together behind the 15 and 16 year olds in the playoffs, then we had a game in Big Valley and we filled that rink and were able to do a 50/50.
“They had also opened their dealership, so they were able to collect money for the agriplex there as well. Things like these are what excites us – just to see how the community gets involved, ”he said, adding that Stettler has a solid history of supporting a number of initiatives.
“We also want it to be an ongoing thing – we want it to last,” he said, reflecting on past teams in the years that have come and gone.
This is also where some of the inspiration for the team name came from.
There were the Stettler Sabers in the 1970s, for example. He said they considered the Sabers for the current squad, but they were already used.
“There’s also a photo in the Stettler Rec Center of a team in the 40’s and 50’s called the Imperials, and we thought that was a cool name. We also wanted to pay homage to history, ”he said, adding that there were also plans to have a“ retro ”party once things fall into place where they can use the old logos of retro jersey.
“We’ve updated the jersey logo now, but we’d love to have a retro fan night where we go where the old uniforms are for a night,” he said, adding that Stettler’s Chance Clark with C3 Création is the one who designed the logo and the team jersey.
In the meantime, the trials for the Imperials will take place at the end of September, and the best way to stay in touch with match dates, volunteer opportunities and other events with the team is through their Facebook page (Stettler Imperials Hockey Club ).
“Then there will be practice and the season will start at the end of October,” he said, adding that they were aiming to host the home opener on November 6.
For DJ, hockey has been a long-standing passion.
“Four out of five of us all have a history with Stettler’s minor hockey,” he said. “For anyone who knows me, I primarily live and breathe hockey. It has always been like this.
“It’s also the atmosphere of the ice on game day and just being with your teammates to achieve those goals. It’s all from being with the guys in the locker room to road trips, going out for a beer after the game – just all about that, ”he said.
Going forward, the guys are also hoping to host a few cabarets in the Rec Center Hub throughout the season.
Again, for more team information, check them out on Facebook at the ‘Stttler Imperials Hockey Club’.