From Friday until Sunday, players went through a variety of drills that showed not only the players’ individual skills, and their level on conditioning following the off season, but also how they apply those individual skills to a team mentality.
Despite no new goalies trying out this year, it was a busy weekend for both returning Huskies net minders, Ty Gullickson and Travis McLean, who faced countless shots throughout the tryout process, and both looking sharp as the season approaches.
While there were a lot of familiar faces on forward, there were a few new players looking to crack the defensive end of the team.
McLean says that from ice level the team looked a bit slow, but also that he expected that, as it was the first time back on the ice for a lot of the players. He says he’s confident the team will be ready to go come the season opener, and even talked about the team’s ambitious goal for the season.
"All of us have talked about it; it doesn’t matter what you win or what you do on your own this year, if we don’t end up with a championship this year we will count it as a loss of a season. So that’s pretty much the only thing that matters this year."
The dedication to win the league championship is clearly a priority for a lot of the team’s returning players, who started to rent ice in Taylor prior to tryouts, to ensure they shake off a bit of the rust as the season approaches.
Following three days evaluating his team, returning head coach Gary Alexander says he won’t be making any drastic changes to his defence-first philosophy he began instilling in last year’s team.
"I think we established a criteria last year that took a lot longer than what we planned. But the basis is set this year and I think it will come along a little faster as we go along through the league this year."
Coach Alexander says he already has good idea of how the team’s roster will unfold, but will evaluate the players over this week and won’t make any final decisions until the team concludes their exhibition games.
The team will play in four exhibition games prior to the start of the regular season. Game one will take place Friday, September 15, when Fort St. John gets its first glimpse at this year’s potential team, as the Huskies play their first preseason home game, welcoming the leagues newest team, the Fairview Flyers, to the North Peace Arena.
The following day, the team will hit the road, travelling to Fairview to conclude the home-and-home exhibition series.