Jets prepping for bigger season

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The Morinville Jets delivered their most successful season in more than three decades last season, finishing at the top of their division in the Capital Junior Hockey League and going on to playoff semi-finals. This year the club is looking to go farther.

“We’re looking for something bigger and better this year, obviously,” said Morinville Jets President Brent Melville. “We think we have the nucleus from last year coming back plus we have a few people that we’ve targeted.” Melville said he cannot disclose player names as the players do not yet have releases from their current teams. “We think we have the possibility to upgrade our team and win the championship next year.”

Melville said the Jet’s strong divisional finish earlier this year has resulted in considerable buzz about Morinville, notice he thinks could translate into raising the club’s bar even higher. “There’s lots of people that obviously want to play for a winning team,” he said, adding the atmosphere created by Roland and Dan Blackburn over the years has allowed the Jets to grow as a club. “It’s easy to bring people. We have a really great group of kids that are dedicated. They want to win and that makes a difference.”

The Jets president said last year saw the Jets bench filled with a lot of rookies, players who this year will have a little more experience and a little more skill at the Junior B level. “We had nine or 10 rookies last year and a lot of them were only 18,” he explained. “Now they are 19. You are playing against 21-year-olds. When you are 18, you are just not as strong, and it takes you a year to adjust.”

Although a lot of last year’s rookies came to the club from successful Midget AAA careers, the transition was tough. Melville thinks that first year of Junior B experience will pay off in dividends when they hit the ice in Jets’ jerseys this fall.

Melville lamented the loss of Dalen Paul who is now too old to play at the Junior B level. Paul lead the team and the league in goals last year; however, Melville thinks the 2012-2013 season will see a Jets team that is better balanced. “A lot of teams keyed on Dalen and his line because he got 40 goals,” Melville explained. “We figure we have got six or eight kids that can get 20 goals. I think we will be a far more balanced team, which is good. We’ve got good goal tending, good defence. We’re quite excited.”

Gone from the bench with Paul and other Jet veterans is Coach Scott Rodda, who announced his third year would be his last midseason. Melville said he is not yet prepared to announce his coaching staff for this season, but did say he has four of the five lined up already.

Try outs next week

Current and prospective Jets will take to the ice Sept. 3 for the first of three days of tryouts at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre. Try outs run 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 3 and from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 4 and 5.
Players will participate in a tournament in Leduc Sept. 7 to 9, during which coaching staff will be able to see prospective players in action beyond skills and drills.

Melville said he will be looking for a number of things this try out season, including a little more grit, something he feels his club lacked last year.

“We’re a very quick team, a fast team over the years,” Melville said. “I think last year we lacked in the grit department. That’s what we’re looking at.”

Melville said there are not many openings on the team but wearing a Jets’ jersey last year is no guarantee of wearing one this season.
Anyone interested in trying out for the team can call Brent Melville at 780-699-2903.

The Morinville Jets enter the 2012-2013 season Sept. 21 in a road game against the Stony Plain Flyers. The club’s home opener will be Sept. 23 at 6:45 p.m. against the Spruce Grove Regals.

Above: The Morinville Jets are getting set to take to the ice for another season next month. The club will hold the first three days of try outs next week in Morinville and follow it up with a weekend tournament in Leduc. – Morinville News File Photo

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