It’s finally time for some hockey!
After the Bantam Draft, new faces added, the off-season and training camp, the players have finally hit the ice for pre-season action.
The Hitmen opened up their five-game season tune-up schedule on Friday when they faced the Red Deer Rebels.
New head coach Dallas Ferguson was itching for things to get underway and is looking for various aspects throughout the rest of the pre-season.
“Our approach is to implement our team game,” Ferguson said. “We’re continuing to evaluate player’s development and see how they are doing.
“We have a strong group of players and now we have to come together as a group to make sure we’re organized and strong to start the season in two weeks.”
With the 32-player pre-season roster trying to make an impression on the staff, Ferguson will be mixing and matching lines up to see which players click together and to also get an even better idea of what each player brings to the club.
“There’s some dynamics to it that are very interesting,” Ferguson said. “You have the returning players who may already have that chemistry.
“We have younger players pushing for a roster spot and as we go through the pre-season we’ll look to see where guys fit in certain positions, and as we get deeper into it we’ll look at what may work and what may not.”
An aspect that the coach is keeping a close eye on is the centre positon.
Ferguson said that depth at this position is something that you can never have too much of and will look to see which players can perform in that role both in the offensive and defensive zone.
“We have to establish the middle of the ice, it’s a focus for me to see guys place the middle of the ice and how comfortable they are at his level and how well they pick up on being success at it.
“We’re going to see what the guy’s best strengths are and where we are at.”
As a whole, the first year WHL coach wants to see each player give it everything they have, whether it is players cementing their place in the lineup who were on the roster last year or those coming in trying to crack a spot on the roster permanently.
“The focus has to be in the right spot, you got to this point for a reason now it’s time,” Ferguson said. You’ll get an opportunity to show what you can do. End of the day just go out and play. I want them to focus on playing great and putting their best foot forward.”