It will have been 14 days on Sunday since the Fort St. John Huskies last fired a shot on an opposing goaltender and that time off has the team more than prepared to open the North West Junior Hockey League season.
On Tuesday night the team held the second to last practice before they square off against Beaverlodge in their season opener and Head Coach Gary Alexander said the team is chomping at the bit to see something other than Huskies’ practice jerseys.
“I think we are looking pretty good, real good practice tonight, tempo was up attention span was great,” he said.
“We’re still fighting the defensive core, we can’t seem to get them all here at one time. Our offensive game looks pretty good. I can see [defensives shortages] being one of those things that we fight all year long. We have a little help coming in a couple weeks.”
Alexander explained that he sees a group that is perhaps more prepared than they were to start the season last year, and while not wanting to compare this year to last, he said the team needs to understand that just because their opponents struggled last season, doesn’t mean they can be taken for granted.
“It’s a big thing to kick off no matter who you play with a couple of wins,” he said.
“Sexsmith has picked up a couple of players and I don’t think we can necessarily put two points in the bank just by showing up there. So we have to be prepared to play wherever we go. Last year the games that cost us the most were the ones we lost to Beaverlodge and Dawson Creek— when we weren’t focused and we weren’t ready to play.”
Offensively the Huskies looked like a well-oiled machine through their three game preseason, and Alexander seemed to think that will be the meal ticket for the 2015-2016 squad.
Naturally, the experienced front-end should provide the brunt of the scoring ability for the Huskies, Alexander also expects his forwards to help out the short-handed defensive core.
“They’ve all got to pay a lot more attention to our defensive stuff. We don’t have that big core that we’ve had in the past to rely on,” he said.
“So it’s a big thing for them all to help out on the defensive end of the ice. We always have to look after our own end and the other end will look after itself.”
The Huskies will start their regular season on the road in Beaverlodge on Oct. 4 and then open the season in Fort St. John on Friday, Oct. 9 against Sexsmith.