By Dylan Purcell/Dale Woodard
Southern Alberta Newspapers
You can forgive the Coaldale Copperheads if they’re sometimes unsure if they’re playing a home game or a road game.
It’s not that 2014-15 Heritage Junior B Hockey League champions are geographically-challenged or can’t identify the inside of their home stomping grounds at the Coaldale Sportsplex, it’s the noise they hear from the bleachers that make the Copperheads feel like they’re at home on the road.
That’s due to a dedicated group of Copperheads fans who haven’t been content just taking in home games, instead choosing to hit the road and follow the team out of town.
Recently, the Copperheads paid their fan base for their dedication, sweeping the regular season-leading Blackfalds Wranglers 3-0 in the league championship to capture the team’s first Heritage Junior B Hockey League championship in the team’s eight-year history.
“I think it’s awesome for the team and the community as a whole,” said Copperheads goaltender Dillon Kelly.
“It’s the first time it’s happened and it’s just special for everyone. Everyone has worked so hard in the organization, it’s good that we can go out and do that for them.”
And for the Copperhead faithful, there’s still more to cheer for, as the team heads to Stony Plain for Provincials April 2-5 with hopes of a provincial title that will punch their ticket to Cold Lake for the Western Championship.
“We’ve had a good fan base following us all year, especially through the playoff run,” said Copperheads head coach Derek Wiest.
“So I’ve already heard a lot of people are going up to support the guys.”
Copperheads assistant general manager and gameday co-ordinator Harvey Pomreinke noted the faithful Copperheads ticket buyers that have flocked through the gates all season.
“Our fan support has been just super,” said Pomreinke.
“Every year we’ve had excellent crowds and things like that and when we got on a roll this year with the new coaching staff that came in we even (had) better fan support. Winning, obviously helps and it’s been unbelieveable the amount of our fans that travel to our road games with us. Even up in Blackfalds, I’ll bet you we had 75 to 100 of our fans that travelled on their own to come.”
With provincials right around the corner, Pomreinke doesn’t see the trend of large numbers of Copperheads in opposing rinks stopping.
“Everybody is just chomping at the bit,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you go in town, they’re talking about us. It’s really great. The word gets back. As soon as we won our championship, the next day or even that night the signs changed on the arena. Everybody follows us on Twitter. It’s been unbelievable.”