That is the operative word around the Prince Albert Icehawks training camp this weekend.
The Icehawks, who won just five of 40 games last year to miss the Prairie Junior Hockey League playoffs for the first time in franchise history, had 29 players audition for this year’s club, but head coach Kim Dryka said skill level isn’t the only thing being evaluated.
“Commitment is the big thing,” said Dryka, who is back for a second season and being assisted once again by Curtis Juravinski. “There are a lot of kids with skill out there, but hopefully we will get them committed and get back to having fun playing the game again.”
Last year, particularly late in the season, the Icehawks would grab an early lead, but due to a lack of players could not hold on to the advantage in the latter stages of the game. There were a couple of contests where the Icehawks had just a player or two more than the minimum required to play, which is set at 10.
Of the 29 players who were at camp this weekend, 13 have played with the team in the past. Dryka says that bodes well for improving on last year’s results and coupled with a crop of fresh prospects he is excited for what the team could look like.
Dryka and his staff will have little time to wait to see how the team performs in a game situation as the Icehawks host the defending league champion Saskatoon Royals on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Kinsmen Arena. The same two teams will play another exhibition match in Saskatoon on Saturday.
Prince Albert will also have a home-and-home series with the Tri-Town Thunder in the pre-season with the regular schedule set to get under way on Oct. 1. The Icehawks will host the Saskatoon Quakers in their season opener that night.
There are some decisions that have to be made, including who the two overage players will be, so Tuesday’s game will help evaluate the talent further; and see who is really committed to being with the team.