19 Teams in 19 Days – Waterloo Wildfire

Another season is underway and as teams hit the ice in their quest for the 2011-2012 NRL Championship title, we’re taking a closer look at each team in the league. The new series is called 19 Teams in 19 Days and we would like to encourage you to join in the discussion on Twitter by following www.twitter.com/nrllnr or by sending us an email at NRLchatter@nationalringetteleague.ca

Waterloo Wildfire

Last season finish:
Regular season – 7th place Eastern Conference
Eastern playoffs – lost 2-0 to Quebec City Cyclones

Head coach: Doug Miners
Two questions with coach Miners:
What would it mean to you, as a coach, to win the NRL championship this season?
It would indeed be an honour to be among the elite group of coaches and team members that have won an NRL Championship. I also understand how difficult it is to reach this pinnacle and the commitment that is required to meet the ultimate goal. It takes time, patience, planning and execution of the team goals to succeed and I congratulate the teams that have already reached this goal in the past. Waterloo will be striving to meet the challenge and playing for the NRL Championship.

What does your team have to do to win an NRL championship?
We have to become more focused on our game plan and stick to it. Skating, passing and shooting is the main part of the game that any team must accomplish to to be competitive at any level. We also have to become better at capitalizing on the the other team’s mistakes, which all good winning teams manage to do. Our emphasis has to be all of this and putting it on the ice for 40 minutes every time we play.

The NRL nugget to know about this team:
The Wildfire are looking to reap the rewards of a blockbuster trade last season. Tia Toko and Lauren Borland are with the Wildfire for the full season and they will be expected to continue contributing in the way they did after the trade deadline last season.

The question to be answered:
Can the Wildfire get to the big dance? The Wildfire have kind of alternated between qualifying for the NRL Championship and falling just short. They will be working this season to get there and then maybe get something done once they get to Burnaby.

What happened in the off-season:
The Wildfire have, through partial retirement, lost a great leader in the form of Gerry Kraemer. Kraemer was the inaugrual manager of the Wildfire and has been a key leader in the NRL and with this Wildfire group. Kraemer will be supporting the team’s new management group of Linda and Jim Thompson as they get their feet wet during their first season with the NRL.

The (hidden) gem:
Bryanna Kelly is rapidly approaching the 200 point plateau for her career. She is not talked about as much as some players, but she has been a great scorer in this league for a while now.

Reason for optimism:
The Wildfire are always in the conversation. If you are not ready to play against the Wildfire, you will pay a price. The Wildfire know that if they are in the game they always have a chance – and that knowledge can be powerful.

Reason for concern:
The Wildfire did not qualify for the NRL Championship last year, falling in the eastern playoffs to Quebec City. The Wildfire have to make some progress this year in order to take the next step and this is easier said than done.