Morinville – The Jets 6-5 loss to the Edmonton Mustangs Wednesday night was no great disappointment to the team’s coaching staff. The home-ice exhibition game was but another opportunity for rookie hopefuls to prove themselves and for coaches to see who has what it takes to wear a Jets’ jersey.
“This is a good test, to get into some exhibition games,” said head coach Scott Rodda, adding this weekend’s exhibition tournament in Fort Saskatchewan will provide another opportunity to see what veteran and rookie prospects are like outside of drills.
Rodda said the club’s fall camp, which began in late August, drew 49 players trying out for a chance to don the red, white and blue jersey. Of that number, approximately 14 were veterans, but Rodda said previous time played with the team is no guarantee of a spot on the team this season.
“It was quite a competitive camp, Rodda said. “Vets have been pushed hard, which is what you want. We started off with about four goalies, 16 defence and the rest were forwards. A lot of young kids and they’ve been pushing for spots, so it’s been really competitive.”
The coach said a number of players have already been cut and there are currently about 30 left in the running. Another five or six will be cut this Sunday after the completion of a three-game exhibition tournament in Fort Saskatchewan.
“We’re going to dress as many rookies as we can this weekend,” Rodda said. “I just want the rookies to either earn the spot and stay a bit longer or work themselves off. By the end of the week I want to know who’s going to be around. We’ll probably be down to 25.”
This weekend’s tournament takes place at the Jubilee Recreation Centre in Fort Saskatchewan. The Jets take to the ice against the Whitecourt Wolverines at 10:15 a.m. Saturday and conclude the day with a game against the Fort Saskatchewan Hawks at 6 p.m. The Jets play one game Sunday evening at 7:45 p.m., taking on the Strathcona Sabres.
The Jets begin the Capital Junior hockey League regular season next weekend against the Leduc Schwab Riggers Sept. 17 in Leduc and follow it up with the home opener / tail gate bash Sept. 19, taking on the Spruce Grove Regals. Game time for the Sept. 19 home game is 2 p.m.