Muskie girls gunning for OFSAA berth

The goal is stamping a ticket to OFSAA, but the first task facing Muskie girls’ hockey head coach Lynn Kellar and the rest of his staff is picking the team to get there.
“Our goal is to win NorWOSSA and go to OFSAA, and I think this team is capable of doing that,” Kellar said after tryouts wrapped up last week.
It’s still unknown who will make up the team (the roster was to be set by today), but one thing the coaching staff will try to infuse into the players is a seriousness that’s been lacking in the past, said assistant coach Chris Hill.
“That’s been kind of a stumbling block with this team,” said Hill.
Hill wasn’t inferring there was anything wrong with the way things were done in the past, “but we don’t have a history and things are still pretty new,” he remarked.
That was evident even before the tryouts began when Hill organized a meeting Sept. 2 at Fort High, which was a briefing to the prospective players to “kind of lay out the outline of what we’re looking for.”
“It’s not going to be anything crazy, but we want them to start thinking about things,” Hill had said at the time.
Although Kellar was a dominant figure behind the bench last season for the Muskies, this will be his first stint as the “official” head coach after Jim McMahon resigned just prior to the playoffs due to personal reasons.
Kellar already has said he will be implementing a dryland conditioning component and a season-long workout regiment that players will have to follow.
“I think adding those things will help us get started,” he remarked.
One initial disappointment was that the number of players vying for a spot on the team did not increase over last season (around 25 players came out).
But at least it wasn’t any less and it still made for having competitive tryouts, which before last season wasn’t seen in a program now entering its sixth year of existence.
“You’d always like to see more and we thought we would have more from last year,” admitted Kellar, who noted the team will carry 17-20 players.
The coaches are looking for players who display a mix of skills that manifest themselves not only on the ice, but in the locker-room, as well.
“This year we want to be a little more tighter and have more bonding as a team because I think that makes a big difference,” Hill said.
“One of the challenges this year is to continue and build in that area—team chemistry is huge,” agreed Kellar.
A number of key veterans, including Kirsten Roehrig, Ashley Whalen, and Kim Pacarenuk, have graduated from the team.
And while there were players with previous Muskie experience at the tryouts, that’s not to say those returning players can merely show up and have a jersey handed to them.
“Something that we’ve tried to instill in the kids every year is that there are no guarantees. You have to come back and earn your spot every year,” said Kellar.
“I’ve been through different tryouts, and it’s a nervous time and it’s an exciting time,” he added.
And though it is an exciting period for players and coaches alike since the season is a new one, with new hopes and expectations, one thing neither side enjoys is the “cutting” phase.
But that’s the reality of having competitive tryouts, said Kellar. He only hopes the choices the coaches make lead to a season that will want to be remembered—not forgotten—by the program.
“It’s a long winter and we need to have a common goal and we need to have everyone working towards that,” stressed Kellar.
That goal? Well, Kellar already answered that—OFSAA.