The countdown to the Fort St. John Huskies season opener is on, following the team's main training camp at the Pomeroy Sport Centre last weekend, August 27 to 29. The team entered camp with 36 players, and have since whittled it down to 25 players, who will practice and compete in exhibition games with the team before final cuts are made for opening night.
"It was good to have a training camp of that style, the boys each got four games in. We had some good action going and I thought the pace was pretty good," said Huskies head coach Todd Alexander.
Last year, the players couldn't compete in scrimmages due to PHO restrictions, and camp consisted of only drills. This year, coaches opted to have the players compete in a series of exhibition games.
"It's good to see them on the ice and working. We get an idea that way of what they have naturally, and now we'll do five practices and these guys can show us if they need to stay or if we'll need to bring in some more bodies. It's up to the players now to see what they can do," Alexander said.
The team will have a good mix of returning players and newcomers, many of whom are local players. Players like Alex Nimmo, Jared Winkel, Tyler MacArthur will be back for their third and fourth seasons with the team, and ready to lead the next era of Huskies players forward.
"I'm super impressed with this group, a lot of them are stepping up. A lot of the comments from out of town guys during close-out interviews were how accepting the veteran guys are, and how the new guys could always ask them questions they might not ask of the coaches. These guys are stepping into that role naturally, there's no fakeness that all. With the culture of this group and who we are as people, when you start the season that way it gets you excited to see where the can be placed," Alexander said.
Alexander said one of the strong points of this year's team will be their mental toughness.
"We put a lot into teaching them ow to be mentally tough, working on positive messaging. The culture is already there and I', excited for the returning guys to share it."
Practices begin this week, leading up to exhibition games in Cold Lake, September 18 and 19. The season opener goes in Dawson Creek against the Junior Canucks, September 24.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org