Sandwiched between winning a second straight Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championship and heading to their second straight Western Canada Cup (WCC) tourney, the Yorkton Terriers held their spring camp on the weekend.
Terrier head coach Trent Cassan said that while all hockey is great, that it has meant a hectic time for himself and the rest of his staff.
“It was busy, I can tell you that,” he said between doing post-camp interviews with the last batch of players and preparing to hit the ice for a team practice Sunday.
But since the Terriers are headed to the WCC again (see related stories this section and Page A1), Cassan said he doesn’t mind the pace.
“I’d take this situation anytime,” he said. “This is what you strive for.”
Cassan said about 70-players attended the camp, most having played Midget this season. He said a lot of Bantam-aged played were attending a SaskFirst camp on the weekend, so that limited their presence at the Terrier one.
In addition the Terriers had some of their list players attending the AAA Midget Telus Cup tournament with Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.
A few players were also missing due to nursing injuries from their just completed seasons.
“But it gave us a good look at some other guys,” said Cassan.
Since many at the camp were players who graduated Midget at the end of the season, they were looking to catch the Terrier coaching staff’s eyes in order to make the jump to Junior in the fall.
Cassan said he told the players, especially the senior Midget players, it was up to them to impress at the camp since they were the oldest players in attendance.
“What I told the ‘96s (players born in 1996), they need to stand out. We need to see that they are the best players at the camp,” he said.
The Terrier coach added he reminded players if they don’t look good at the spring camp it will only get harder to impress come fall camp when they are up against older, more experience players.
“That’s going to be an adjustment,” he said.
Cassan said “there were some” who showed they wanted to earn a spot on the Terriers in the fall.
One of those players was Adam Santoro, who played four games with the Terriers as an affiliated player this season, scoring a pair of goals.
“It was good to see other guys up against him,” said Cassan, adding having seen the Beardy’s Blackhawks captain in the Terrier line-up this season showed he has the talent to play Junior.
“He put up some good numbers (22-goals and 50-points), and played both ends of the rink (for Beardy’s).”
In terms of needs, the Terriers will graduate a goaltender, three top defenceman, and a lot of offence from up front when their year finally comes to an end.
Cassan said while “you don’t replace 20-year-olds,” in terms of experience and offence with players out of Midget, there will be spots as other veterans on the Junior club take on larger roles next fall.
Looking ahead, the Terrier coach said they try to stay with a simple philosophy when selecting players.
“We take the best player when we can, regardless of where they played, or who they played for,” he said, adding that has meant at times taking players who played Midget A, and passing on some AAA Midget ones.
“We like to get guys who are team guys. Guys who can skate and compete, and are willing to buy into the team aspect.”