Jets two for three in weekend tournament

Riviere Qui Barre rookie netminder James Flemming stopped 31 of 33 shots sent his way Saturday night during an exhibition game against the fort Saskatchewan Hawks. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – There were no points to be earned by the Morinville Jets in this past weekend’s three-game Junior B exhibition tournament in Fort Saskatchewan, unless one counts the points rookie hopefuls were looking to earn with the club’s coaching staff.

The road games gave head coach Scott Rodda and assistant coaches Alan Fraser and Floyd Murrin another opportunity to see players in action before making their final cuts ahead of next weekend’s season and home openers.

But despite the lack of points up for grabs in the pre-season tournament, the Jets walked away with two wins in three outings.

The club began the tournament Saturday morning taking on 2010 provincial silver medallists, the North West Junior Hockey League’s Whitecourt Wolverines. Although the game ended in a 3-2 loss for the Jets, organizers were pleased with the efforts they saw on the ice.

Returning to the ice Saturday night, the Jets took on CJHL rivals the Fort Saskatchewan Hawks, handily defeating the home town club 7-2. The Jets ended the first frame leading the Hawks 3-2 on the scoreboard and outshooting the Hawks 20-12. Second period saw the Jets add one to their tally to end the period 4-2, continuing their lead in chances to 30-23. The Jets picked up another three during the final frame while shutting out the Hawk’s 10 scoring opportunities during the period.

The Jets showed a strong ability to keep the puck out their zone Saturday night.
Saturday night’s game showed the talent the club’s recruiters have assembled this year. Although far from a perfect game or perfectly gelled team, the players who took to the ice in the Jets jerseys showed strong offence and defence, as well as a discipline that kept them largely out of the penalty box. Although the Jets took a number of penalties during the game, they were less than those racked up by the Hawks, a situation that allowed the Jets to capitalize on their power play chances.

But while five-on-four opportunities did help the Jets get the biscuit in the basket, the Hawks low score could not all be attributed tot heir time in the sin bin. The Jets d-men proved more than competent in keeping the puck away from Riviere Qui Barre rookie backstop James Flemming, who stopped 31 of the 33 shots that came his way.

The club ended the weekend tournament Sunday night with a 6-4 victory over Strathcona.

The Jets open the CJHL regular season Friday night in Leduc against the Schwab Riggers, a team who finished the 2009-2010 season in 12th place, and return to Morinville for the home opener and tailgate party Sept. 19. The Jets take on the Spruce Grove Regals, a club who finished fifth place in the west division and ninth place in the CJHL last season. Game time for the home opener is 2 p.m. at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre.

Stay tuned to later this week for full details on Sunday’s home opener bash.

The Hawks backstop deflects a Jets scoring opportunity. The Jets earned seven goals in 46 chances during game two of a three-game tournament.
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