Morinville – The Morinville Jets are looking to come on the ice this season with a team that has more size, more speed and a more balanced attack. That’s the word from Jets’ Director of Player Development Roland Blackburn, who said the Junior B hockey club is anticipating as many as 50 players coming out to try out for the team next week.
Although the ice won’t be in the Ray McDonald Sports Centre until early September, the Jets begin their fall camp Aug. 23 at the Russ Barnes Arena in Edmonton, beginning a process that is the culmination of the club’s scouting efforts over the past year.
“When your scouting, you feel like you’re spinning your wheels,” Blackburn said. “You don’t know if you are making a difference. But when you get a spring camp like we had and you get the interest that you’re getting now in the fall camp, we know it’s making a difference. You just have to keep your chin up when you’re doing it because you just don’t know where all the cards are going to end up.”
Although Blackburn would not go on record as to just whom is considering hitting the ice in the Jets’ red and blue this season, he is certain fans will be impressed with the job the team’s scouts have done in attracting top-notch hockey players to Morinville.
“We’re pleased with the players that are coming,” Blackburn said. “We’re very happy that most of the players that are eligible to return from last year will be coming back. And we’re very happy with the quality of players coming in to try out.”
The director of player development attributes the quality of players being drawn to Morinville to not only the team’s recruiting efforts but also the club’s growth and cohesion over the past couple of seasons.
“Players that are coming in have seen what we did last year, what we did the year before, and they’re seeing that this is building now,” Blackburn said. “We’re getting these players back, quality players.”
While the Jets are anticipating a strong offensive and defensive game this year, Blackburn said he is concerned that the club’s potential netminders this year could be rookie goalies. Last season the Jets pulled up Mike Saunders from the Junior C Titans, but this year Saunders is attending college in the United States.
“Without Mike Saunders coming back, we’ll have to see what’s coming in for goaltending,” Blackburn said. “It’s a big loss for us. We’re going into this year with no goalies that have played in the Capital Junior Hockey League.”
But regardless of the position the player is trying out for, Blackburn said the Jets will be looking for players that carry the characteristics of a Morinville Jet.
“The character of a Jet player, in my opinion, is a loyal, hard working individual who is skilled (or may not necessarily be skilled) but has that ability to do anything that he needs to do to make the team better.” Blackburn said. “That player that thinks of his team mates first before himself.”
For further information on the Morinville Jets and their fall camp, visit www.morinvillejets.com.