Hockey season hasn’t started, but coaches for the Mustangs rep teams already have tough decisions to make. Like every year, they are nearing the point of deciding who gets on the roster and who gets the axe.
However, some coaches have it worse than others.
“We’re slowly trying to make some decisions as to who’s going to be there in the future,” said Peewee Mustangs coach Shawn McLeod. “We have a good group of kids in there now and everyone is working hard, so we’re happy with the effort.”
With tryouts half over and final rosters to be decided upon next week, most Mustang teams are now holding inter-team games, often the deciding factor of who going to playing in the Mustangs’ red, black and white this season.
McLeod, who only has three returning players vying for a spots, has fewer than 10 players to turn away from the about 30 that have come out.
“We’re probably going to go with three (forward) lines, five defence and two goalies and we’ll see – we have some room to play with if those decisions become ones we don’t want to make,” said McLeod. “We have room to carry a couple extras.”
For bantam Mustangs coach Dave Pearson, there’s a little more fat to trim, having to cut about 42 down to 19 or so.
“We have well-coached, very skilled players that came up from peewee last year – we had a great set of coaches working with them last year,” said Pearson. “So there’s a lot of talent on the ice and it’s fun to watch.”
Despite having eight returners on the ice, no one is getting a free pass onto the team, said Pearson.
“All the jobs are open,” said Pearson. “There’s returning players, obviously, and they have a head-start on positions, but there’s no firm commitment to anyone on this hockey team.
“Second-year players have the inside track, but as far as the rest of the squad it’s pretty wide open.
“A lot of those players learned a lot last year and they know our system, but that doesn’t mean they have a sure spot on the team.”
Players trying out for the midget Mustangs probably have the best chance of making a team, if not the premier team. For the first time there will be midget A and midget B Mustang teams to accommodate the more than 40 players who came out.
“Our plan will be for the midget Bs to play once a week in an exhibition game against various teams in the rec B division,” said midget Mustangs coach Jim Stephens. “That’ll be a good program, especially for first-year midgets, who obviously have an uphill battle making the team with second- and third-year midgets. It should help a lot of kids stay in hockey.”
Stephens hopes that the B team program, which will likely house many first-year midget players, will give Team Yukon a boost for the next Canada Winter Games since only first-year midgets will be allowed to compete.
“The midget B team program is long overdue,” added Stephens.
Aside from splitting the players into A and B, Stephens must also make the big decision on who’s going between the poles, with both of last year’s goalies surpassing the age limit.
“So we need to fill that gap, but we have a very strong third-year goalie: Mel Goodman,” said Stephens. “He hasn’t played midget the last couple years and he’s coming back this year and is looking very good.”
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