The Yorkton Terriers are back on the ice preparing for the upcoming Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season.
On Sunday afternoon, the Terriers hosted Melville in a rookies-only game at Farrell Agencies Arena, dropping the contest 3-1 thanks to a couple of late-game goals by the Millionaires.
The teams met Monday in Melville with regular rosters in play, and again the Mills came away with a win, this time 9-6.
The Terriers held their annual fall camp over the weekend, with some 70 hopefuls attending.
“It was a very good turn out,” said Terriers head coach and general manager Mat Hehr, adding the camp attracted almost everyone on the player list and the team’s Bantam draft selections.
There were also 16 returning players from last season. A few off-season moves trimmed the number of eligible players who could return.
Evan Nicholas and Josh Bryant were sent to Thunder Bay, Drew Coglin is gone, and Josh Dobberthien and Slater Strong have opted to head to school. Kyle Sargent is also gone after being selected by Humboldt in the draft to replenish the Bronco roster.
Of the veterans who were in camp over the weekend, Hehr said they looked ready to contribute in the upcoming season.
“Everyone came in shape,” he said. “We had some pretty hard workouts at camp off the ice.”
The Terriers went into camp looking for a goaltender after graduating Joe Marcouiller, who played in 25 games last season.
Ben Laidlaw returned as the frontrunner, having played in 23 games, after arriving from Calgary via a trade.
“Obviously there were ups and downs last season not only the team but his season too,” said Hehr.
But, in camp he took control of the position with his size and athleticism giving him an edge, said the coach.
“[Laidlaw’ll] be the starting goaltender,” said Hehr. “It’s definitely his job to lose.”
The battle for number two in goal is a two-player race, with Ryan Oullette from Colorado and James Brendelan from British Columbia vying for the spot.
Helping the netminders will be a veteran defence.
“We return four very solid defenceman,” said Hehr, adding that local area additions Keanan Sperling and Carter Lake promise a physical presence.
Tyson Janzen, only 17, also figures into the blue line mix early, said Hehr.
Up front, the Terriers may be ready to score, having generated six markers in their loss in Melville Monday, with a veteran roster.
“I really wasn’t expecting the guys to be gelling like that,” said Hehr, adding they haven’t started working on systems yet.
It helped that Jared Legien, who played 61 games in the Western Hockey League, split between Victoria and Regina, is back with the Terriers. He had a hat trick in the game Monday.
Hehr said the Terriers head into their first full week of practice with 32 players.
“Throughout the week we’ll be reducing to about 25,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be tough for me to make some of these decisions.”
In terms of on ice action, Yorkton heads to Waywayseecappo to face the Manitoba Hockey League franchise. On Sept. 8 they will be in Swan River for another MJHL match-up.
The Terriers have no home preseason games scheduled, but by agreement they will host Waywayseecappo and Swan River in 2019.