While the Muskie girls’ hockey team appears as though it’ll be business as usual up front, with several of their top scorers in camp, the back end is a different kettle of fish.
With four defenders having graduated and one no longer in town, Melanie Scott is the only returning blueliner from last season.
Head coach Mel Langtry acknowledged he’s looking for a fresh defensive corps during tryouts, which began Monday night and will wrap up next Wednesday (Sept. 22), for the coming season.
“We lost five defence, so defence is an issue right off the bat this year,” he stressed after Monday night’s opening session.
“That’ll be tough to fill but it looks like we’ve got a lot of defence out here,” he added.
Up front, Jillian Langtry, Danielle Jean, Shae-lynn Smith, and Taylor Dixon are all in camp, with Jessie Baker the only sniper gone.
“We still have four of our top five scorers from last year, so that’s looking relatively good,” Langtry enthused.
As for goalies, veterans Dana Cridland and Melissa Payne are back, with Cassie McLellan also in camp to provide a push.
In all, Langtry counted 28 players trying out. And since he expects to carry a similarly-sized roster to last year’s, that makes for some tough decisions in the week ahead.
“We’ll end up probably going with about 17—what we did last year,” he noted.
He made clear that nothing was decided coming into camp, and that he’ll slot in the top players in attendance into the starting lineup when the season starts in November.
“Nobody’s on the team right now,” he stressed. “We’re starting from scratch, so that’s what you have to look at.
“Everybody’s competing,” Langtry reiterated. “We told them, ‘You’re competing against the person next to you.’”
While the first night of tryouts was based on drills showcasing basic skills, the final three auditions will take the form of scrimmages.
“[On Monday], we skated them a little bit and we saw what they could do with the puck and tried to show off their skills,” Langtry explained.
“The next three tryouts, we’re going to run scrimmages and see how they do in a game situation and go from there.”
Tonight’s tryout is slated for 9:15 p.m., as is the one next Monday (Sept. 20). The final tryout will be held Sept. 22 starting at 8:45 p.m.
All sessions are at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Langtry ultimately hopes to ice a team with a committed work ethic that is able to grow over the course of the season, and hopefully better last year’s result of a two-game sweep in the NorWOSSA semi-final.
“We’re going to try to go in with the same attitude we went in with last year, and that’s try your hardest every game and improve,” he remarked.
The Muskies will host their home tournament, as well as attend the Sturgeon Heights Huskies tournament in Winnipeg, in October before beginning the NorWOSSA regular season in mid-November.