The Yorkton Terriers began preparation to defend their back-to-back Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championships holding their annual fall camp over the weekend.
Terrier general manager and head coach Trent Cassan said he liked what he saw over the three-day camp, which attracted about 85 hopefuls.
“I thought it was a good camp, very competitive,” he said, adding the scrimmages were intensely played and close. “… The games had a good pace to them.”
Cassan said the veterans returning to the fold led the way through camp.
“The older guys all came back and set a good example with their work ethic,” offered Cassan.
The veterans had a short summer having played through May to capture the team’s first National Championship, but Cassan said they do not look like they want to rest on the laurels.
“They were pretty enthusiastic,” he said, adding every player eligible to return not trying out at a higher level, was back for the camp.
“They had a short summer but they were anxious to get back at it.”
The Terriers do have some holes to fill, as the team saw a number of high profile players complete their Junior eligibility in the spring, including starting netminder Kale Thomson.
That leaves Thomson’s back-up Riley Medves with the eyes squarely on him.
“Riley had a good camp. You could tell he had played at the Junior ‘A’ level,” said Cassan, adding in the black and orange game Sunday evening, “he made two, or three really big saves.”
Carson Bogdan, who played with the Yorkton AAA Midget Harvest last season, and was the Terrier’s third netminder through the playoffs is the other familiar face in camp.
Cassan said camp scrimmages are not the best for evaluating goaltenders as they get limited net time, and face a lot of Midget-aged players.
“In exhibition (games) you get a better look at goaltenders,” said Cassan, who will take four goalies into the preseason, Medves, Bogdan, Bailey Stephens and Ryan Bontorin.
“It’s really wide open. It really depends how the six exhibition games go.”
The Terriers will look different on the blueline this season too, with Brady and Chase Norrish and Devon McMullen gone to graduation, and Tanner Lishchynsky moved to Flin Flon to complete the deal last season for Brett Boehm.
That leaves only Dylan Baer and Dallas Rossiter with extensive blueline time with the Terriers, and Sam Stormoen with limited action.
Among the rookie crop is Braden Lozinski, who was with the Prince Albert AAA Midget Mintos, and was with the Terriers in Vernon for the RBC Cup as insurance on the blueline.
Cassan admitted they are watching the defencemen closely to “see who can play, and in what situations.”
Up front the Terriers return 10 with considerable Junior ‘A’ experience with the team.
Adam Santoro, with the Beardy AAA Midget Blackhawks and Carson Cayer, another Minto, are in camp after having limited game time with the Terriers last season as affiliated players.
Brandon Sookro is a new face with Terrier bloodlines as older brother Ryon wore orange and black.
“He’s looked good. He had a good camp,” said Cassan. “He’s certainly a guy we feel can step in and contribute.”
Kurt Johnes, 20, is another player who could add to the offence, coming over from Virden in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League to complete a deal for Curtis Oliver.
“I think he should be able to contribute,” said Cassan, adding he had 17 goals in the MJHL last season.
The Terriers will be in exhibition action at the Farrell Agencies Arena Thursday hosting the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders and Waywayseecappo here Saturday.