With the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Grande Prairie Storm still in the midst of finalizing its roster, two players from the area are hoping to make the cut for the 2012/2013 season.
Jade McMullen from Fort St. John and Dawson Creek's Connor Fynn are doing their best to impress head coach Blaine Bablitz going into this weekend's back-to-back games against the Lloydminster Bobcats.
Both Fynn and McMullen both played for the NE B.C. & Yukon Tracker Flyers in the past.
McMullen, 16, is one of the youngest on the team and was the Northern Alberta Midget AA Hockey League's top goal scorer last season with 47 in only 31 games.
"He's a very talented younger player," Bablitz said of McMullen. "He's not even 17 years old yet so he's got a bright future ahead of him in junior hockey and the hockey world. As a Peace Country kid I think it's a good fit with him here in Grande Prairie. At the same time he has some things to learn but he's also willing to learn so I think it's a good fit for him and for the Storm."
"There aren't many [16 year olds] but when they're at his caliber it makes sense."
Fynn helped the Tracker Flyers win a championship in 2011 and is hoping to do the same with the Storm.
"Connor is a highly skilled younger forward with lots of upsides and lots of offensive abilities," Bablitz said. "He's another Peace Country kid we'd love to build our team around and we see a bright future with our team. He's going to have to work his way into the right opportunity but he has a great work ethic and a great attitude so again another situation where everything is positive."
The Storm dropped their first two regular season games to the Sherwood Park Crusaders and Camrose Kodiaks last weekend, so they are looking forward a little redemption against the Bobcats on home ice.
"We're going to take it one game at a time," he said. "Obviously the players and everyone here, our staff, are very excited for this weekend being our home opener and playing in front of our home fans so it's a situation where we're looking to win both games this weekend. We need to rebound from the two losses we had on the road last weekend."
"At the same time we're a confident group and we understand the strengths of our team and we've put in a lot of work here so we feel confident going into the weekend," he added.
Although the Storm is still in the process of making cuts, Bablitz said that he and his support staff have had a busy offseason regarding player movement to try to get the right type of players on the team.
"It's a situation where we want to have a whole group of guys trying to achieve the same thing and are trying to work together. That's the basis of our program, so right now we have a great group of kids and coaching staff," he said.
"Things are going well and we all seem to be on the same page."
The Storm will face the Bobcats tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Canada Games Arena in Grande Prairie.