The Yorkton Terriers are a week into preseason and head coach Trent Cassan said the picture of what this season’s team will look like is starting to come into focus.
“It is a process. We want to see improvement each day,” he said Sunday evening after a over-time shoot-out loss to Swan River of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League at the Farrell Agencies Arena in the city.
Cassan said some players are working hard to “show that they want to be here,” adding that is something coaches look for through preseason.
While things are progressing, Cassan said the team still has lots to work on leading up to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League opener scheduled for Sept. 21 when they play host to the Weyburn Red Wings.
“At this point of year, every team has parts they want to improve on,” he said.
In general terms, Cassan said many of his final decisions are likely to be tough ones as he is dealing with a lot of veteran players back in the fold.
The veterans grew by two since camp with Tyler Giebel and Tayler Thompson returning from Western Hockey League try-outs.
Cassan said the return of both players is of course good news for the Terriers.
“They were 18-year-olds last year who played a lot of important minutes for us,” he said, adding that gives them Junior experience to draw on as 19-year-olds this time around.
The Terriers also continue to look at new faces. Patrick Martens and Jacob Dunlop are newcomers in camp from British Columbia.
Cassan said Martens is a 20-year-old he’s “been working on trying to get here most of the summer.”
Martens, a forward started last season with the British Columbia Hockey League, but finished the year in Junior ‘B’ at Nelson where he potted 40-goals in 35-games.
Cassan said the Terriers have had past success bringing 20-year-olds out of Junior ‘B’ in B.C., and he hopes Martens can contribute some offense.
Dunlop is an 18-year-old who is a player Cassan said brings some size up front, and “he skates good for a big guy.”
Cassan said while preseason is a time to look at players, he wasn’t expecting any other new faces arriving for try-outs .
“I wouldn’t say anything is imminent,” he said.
With a veteran line-up the challenge can be finding players willing to accept roles, in particular on the third and fourth line. Cassan said he is a coach who likes to roll four lines.
“I’ve always been a coach who wants to play four lines as much as possible,” he said.
But he also understands many veterans want their share of special teams play and that is limited.
“Only five guys go out at one time for the powerplay, and only four for penalty kills,” he said.
So as Cassan trims down from the 27-players he expected to remain in camp by midweek, it will be a case of looking for some players who fit roles “the guys that bring the intangibles and little things to the game.”
Yorkton started their preseason tuneups with a convincing 6-3 win over the Waywayseecappo Wolverines, also of the MJHL.
Yorkton opened the scoring halfway through the first period, the Wolverines answered back but Yorkton took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room. They only notched one goal in the middle frame but capitalized on nearly everything in the third period, scoring three more in the first 10 minutes of the third.
Yorkton had a home and home series on Monday and Tuesday of this week with the Melville Millionaires.