Muskie hockey tryouts slated for next week

The Muskie train that will be gearing towards OFSAA will be boarding passengers next week—and letting some off the week after—as the team has set the dates for their tryouts.
But that train won’t have to travel far to reach the all-Ontarios—in case you’ve had your head stuck in a gopher-hole, Fort Frances is hosting the 20-team tournament this upcoming season, and that means tough decisions for Muskie head coach Shane Bliss and his coaching staff.
“With OFSAA being here, we obviously want to put forth a good team. We don’t expect to do well right off the get-go, but we want to make sure that we’re peaking at the right time,” Bliss stressed.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens at the tryouts and I’m looking forward to it,” he added.
The tryouts will get going next Wednesday (Sept. 6) until Sept. 8 with the next dates slated for the following week—Sept. 12-15.
Anyone that will be attending Fort High this year can participate in the tryouts, and those interested are encouraged to get in touch with Bliss at the high school to pre-register.
The first batch of tryouts will pit players of similar ages—Grade 9’s and 10’s together, with players from Grades 11 and 12 encompassing the other group—playing against one another. After a rash of cuts, the coaching staff will then combine the two for the second round of the tryouts.
“We’ll have a couple of practices just to get them used to handling the puck and get them skating again, although I think most of the boys have already been doing that,” Bliss said.
“The best way of evaluating them is to see them in a game-type situation and see how they hold up there,” he added.
Bliss expects about the same number of Muskie hopefuls as last year (around 80 players), which will make the process a difficult one. So what attributes and traits will the coaching staff be looking for?
“Personality is a big thing, because we want kids that listen and kids that can be coached and kids that are willing to learn and work hard. All of our teams have always worked really hard no matter how high a skill level we’ve ever had, and that’s always been a Muskie attribute,” said Bliss.
“We want kids that are going to work hard. There are going to be frustrations throughout the course of the season and there will be highs and lows, but we want kids that will be able to pick themselves up and go every night,” he added.
But what about returning players? Just because they’re coming back does that mean they are guaranteed a spot on the team? Or are they expected to come back better than last year?
“Right now, there are 22 spots open,” bluntly answered Bliss suggesting no spot is ever guaranteed.
“Everything is wide open. We do have a lot of kids that could potentially come back, which is always nice. But at the same time you need to think about your future and obviously this season, so we’re going to have to find the right mixture.
“It is going to be tough, because I think that we’re going to be under the microscope all year long and be evaluated every time we go onto the ice—there will be pressure.
“The tryouts will be a tough process. I’m kind of excited and a little nervous, because you never know what you’re going to get and it’s always a guessing game,” Bliss said.
And it’s a game he’s hoping he gets right.