Seventy-eight athletes vied for a spot on the Beardy’s Midget AAA Hockey team, during the organization’s fall selection camp on September 8 and 9.
The camp was held at the Willow Cree Memorial Arena in Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation. The first day consisted of fitness training and the second day players were divided into four teams. Each team played three games.
After the two days, the roster was trimmed down to 44 players and more players were cut after the intersquad game that was played on September 10.
Blackhawks coach Dale Grayston said there will be about 20 players that make up the final roster.
Spots were already limited as there were nine returning players who were at the camp as well.
Returning forwards are Aaron Greyeyes (Muskeg Lake), Griffen Ryden (Warman), Ryland McNinch (Turtleford), Holden Knights (Warman) and Nolan Doell (Martensville).
Returning defensive players are Ethan Neufeld (Warman), Tyler Danielson (Saskatoon), Joey Hockley (Saskatoon) and Teagan Koehler (Saskatoon).
Grayston said all of those players had a successful camp as they were in great shape and conditioned for the game. He also mentioned that it’s important for the veteran players to be the leaders of the team.
“I think these nine guys will do a great job leading our group this year,” Grayston said.
Even though the Blackhawks didn’t have a returning goalie, the coaching staff already knew that they wanted an AP player from last season to be one of the goalies. That player is Dalmeny’s Tyler
Peterson, who also played for the Martensville Midget AA Marauders.
The Blackhawks are only selecting one other goalie out of the 11 netminders that attended the camp.
The athletes who tryout and play for the Blackhawks come from various of the north-central Saskatchewan communities, and this year quite a few returning players are from Martensville and Warman.
“Those two communities have had really strong minor hockey systems through the last 20 years. So it’s kind of a natural fit that a lot of those players will go to our spring camps and fall camps and eventually make our team,” Grayston said.
Grayston and the other coaches were impressed with the effort level of all the athletes that attended the camp.
“We were really looking at how guys handled the ice sessions throughout the day, and the pace of the play was really good throughout the day. In fact, for some players they seemed to get better, the longer the day went,” he said.
According to Grayston, every year there is top competition for the athletes trying out for any midget AAA at team and even though majority of the players that tryout get cut, it’s all about improving as a hockey player.
“It’s never easy for these guys, there’s a lot of anxiety. They just really have to enjoy the experience and learn where their strengths and weaknesses are, and improve on them,” he said.