After two shortened, frustrating seasons, the Fort St. John Huskies have their eyes set on the 2021-22 season, and what they hope will be a full-scale return to competitive hockey. Huskies main camp is set for August 27 to 29 at the Pomeroy Sport Centre, a return to normal after last year's camp had to run in September due to later than usual ice installation.
The North Peace Arena is currently closed for repairs, but Huskies coach Todd Alexander said they've been told by the city the arena will be open for the start of the season.
"We'll be in the Pomeroy until the work on the arena is completed. It will be good to be back together, we have a good mix of new and returning players," Alexander said.
The team is still recruiting new players to come to camp, but Alexander expects there will be around the usual 40 players attending camp when all is said and done.
The Huskies have two 21-year olds returning for their final year of junior in Alex Nemmo and Jared Winkel, as well as a good group of 20 year olds back for their third year.
"We have a decent leadership group, I'm not worried about our culture or anything like that. We went through a bit of a weird stretch last year but we just focused on tactics, skills, and getting ourselves better," said Alexander.
One challenge facing Alexander and the rest of the coaching staff this year is getting not one, but two age groups of players ready for the junior level, as last year's rookies never got the chance to fully adapt to the junior style of play and physicality.
"That will be interesting, dealing with two age groups of guys who haven't gone through the grind of junior hockey, playing against heavier players, riding the bus there and back each night instead of going to tournaments. But that will be on the coaching staff to get the two groups ready to be on the same page as the older groups, so we can do what we do best and play the style we like to play. Everyone is in the same boat though," Alexander said.
He said there will be five to six spots up for grabs, and anticipates a good battle at camp for those positions.
On June 21, the NWJHL announced it's planning to start in September, with the usual six teams, and play a full 40 game season.
"As far as I know, all the teams are on the same page to get going. We'll have a couple exhibition games in September in Cold Lake, before the season starts. A nice road trip for our group to get to know each other and play an opponent we don't get th face much," Alexander said.
"We're really looking forward to playing hockey, being human again, getting out to the rink, and having our office back so we can make sure our mental health is good, jobs are good, whatever it may be. We're getting to cross those things off to make sure we as a team are on the right path going forward."
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