The Yorkton Terriers start the defence of their Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championship in earnest with the start of the regular season Friday.
The Terriers will be in Weyburn to face the Red Wings in their home opener Friday, with the Wings back at the Farrell Agencies Arena Saturday.
Terrier head coach Trent Cassan said the team has come together well through preseason, although as of Monday a few decisions were still pending before the season opener.
“There’s still 28 guys right now,” he said Monday, adding there were still “a couple of final decisions” to be made “after a couple of more hard practices.”
Cassan said by the opener he would expect to be down to 24-26 players.
One position where the Terriers knew they had to make a decision, and still do is in goal.
With Dawson McAuley in Regina with the Western Hockey League, Kale Thomson is the lone returning veteran, and he has been recovering from a lasting injury.
“He (Thomson) wasn’t able to play any exhibition games,” said Cassan, adding his decision on who else stays “kind of depends where he’s at.”
As it stood Monday the Terriers had three netminders still in town, Thomson and newcomers Riley Medves and Jett Salinas.
On defence the Terriers return five with SJHL experience with the team, plus Nick Sandy who played Junior ‘B’ last year, but practiced with the team.
“We’re down to eight defencemen for right now,” said Cassan.
The two newcomers are Holden Cronin who played last season with the Regina AAA Midget Part Canadians and Sam Stormoen who played with the Edge Prep Program in Calgary last season.
The Terriers do have nine 20-year-olds from last season, and the SJHL allows only eight to be dressed in a game.
Cassan said that may force a decision, but not yet as some veterans are still recovering from late season hurts.
“They haven’t been able to get on the ice as much as they would have liked,” he said, adding they have still showed a good attitude helping with younger players through camp.
The experience level of the Terriers should be a strength in the new season, with Captain Devon McMullen and the team’s three assistants all back in the fold.
Cassan said with an older team they have looked to add some youth to ensure a base in the years ahead. He said the younger players will be “placed in situations to play with older guys to adjust to the Junior ‘A’ game.”
Overall, Cassan said he likes where the team is at heading into the new season, adding the Terriers always want to be competitive, and he expects this addition of the team will be that.