The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Yorkton Terriers wrapped up their preseason Sunday with a 3-0 road win in Waywayseecappo of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL).
Terrier head coach Trent Cassan said the game was one where he saw some definite positives in terms of his team getting better heading to this Friday’s Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League regular season opener at the Farrell Agencies Arena.
“I think we showed a lot more last night,” he said, adding he wants to see improvement from his team every time out at this time of year. “… I felt last night I saw that.”
The solid played started in net with Kale Thomson earning the complete game shut-out against the Weyweysecappo Wolverines.
“The biggest thing he was pretty calm in net,” said Cassan, adding the MJHL rink is a tough one to play in even if it was preseason.
As for who will back-up Thomson, Cassan said no final decision has been made.
“We’re still evaluating who will fill the role,” he said, adding the team is likely to carry three netminders into regular season.
The Terriers still have 26 players in camp, as of Monday, although Cassan said that is a number which fluctuates.
As an example, Kailum Gervais was just assigned back to the Terriers from the Western Hockey League Brandon Wheat Kings.
“Kailum’s a veteran player,” said Cassan, noting as a 16-year-old he played 34 games with the Terriers last year. “Now he’s gotten some good experience with Brandon.”
As a result, Cassan feels Gervais will be a real asset for the Terriers this season.
“We expect him to have an effective season for us,” he said.
In terms of change, Cassan said there is potential for greater movement this year as the effects of the National Hockey League lock-out filter down through all levels of hockey.
“I think every club involved in hockey is finding things a little bit up in the air,” he said.
As players do come back to the Terriers, it will put pressure on players already here as there are a finite number of spots on the team.
Cassan said that pressure can be a good thing since staff can “see how guys handle a bit of pressure and how they respond to it. We get to know their character.”
As it stands Cassan said the early strength of the team should be they have a lot of players who have played Junior hockey before.
“I think we have a lot of veteran experience,” he said, then adding veterans still have to “show improvement over last season” to stick with the team. Being a veteran “doesn’t mean anything is handed to them.”
As for areas where new faces might be needed to shore things up, Cassan said they’ll need some regular season action to determine that.
“I think until we actually play a couple of regular season games it’s a bit early to tell,” he said.
Cassan said the regular season turns up the competitiveness of players and makes evaluation a bit easier.
“Hockey players want to compete when they know two points are on the line,” he said.