Crocus Plainsmen coach Peter Gerlinger draws up a play for his team during a recent practice. (FILE PHOTO)
Head coach Peter Gerlinger is more concerned about how the Crocus Plainsmen will look at the end of the season than how they’re playing right now.
The Plainsmen are 0-3 in the pre-season as they prepare to defend their Westman High School Hockey League title. Crocus has lost some key players from that 2012-13 championship team, but Gerlinger believes his squad will be in the thick of it once again by the end of the season.
"People say you’re 0-3 in pre-season, but I really don’t put a lot of merit in that," said Gerlinger, whose team wraps up its pre-season schedule tonight by hosting the Minnedosa Chancellors (7:30, Optimist Arena) in a rematch of last season’s league final.
"I think that we’re very good in net, and defensively we have some good returning defencemen, and up front I really like some of our Bantam AAA kids that have graduated to high school this year that I think are going to be real good competitors. They come out of a real strong program and I think they’re really going to contribute well to high school hockey."
The Plainsmen, who went 1-1 in the provincial AAAA high school championship and were eliminated based on the tiebreaker formula, have lost their top four scorers from last season, as well as goaltender Tyrel Heap. Norman Brightnose is the club’s top returning scorer, while forwards Blair McDonald and Calvin VanSanten, defenceman Walker Rowan and goalie Tyler Ingraham provide leadership as Grade 12 veterans.
Crocus is also in the enviable position of having two Western Hockey League drafted players joining the program in defenceman Blake Jameson (selected by the Victoria Royals) and forward Brendan Kokorudz (Edmonton Oil Kings).
The Plainsmen have also added some experience to complement Ingraham in net as Cody Murray joins the team after playing Midget AAA hockey in Saskatchewan last season.
"I think we’re going to be OK," Gerlinger said. "I really like the structure of our team. I think that even though we are going to be a young team again, as we were last year, I still think that we are going to be competitive … I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Vincent Massey, I think they’ve got a real good club there. They look really strong this year, but by the same token I think we’re going to be very competitive when we put ourselves side by side with them."
The Chancellors have already played their first regular-season game, losing 3-1 to the Boissevain Broncos on Friday night. The league’s next regular-season game isn’t until this Friday when the Dauphin Clippers host Minnedosa.
The Plainsmen open their season by hosting the Dauphin Clippers on Nov. 5, while the Vikings make their debut at home against the Virden Golden Bears on Nov. 7.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 29, 2013