Icehawks gearing up for next year
With the Prairie Junior Hockey League coming to a close on Wednesday with the Saskatoon Quakers capturing their first-ever championship in franchise history, plans for next year are starting to take shape and those plans definitely include the Prince Albert Icehawks.
The rumour mill has been churning in recent weeks that the Icehawks will not be back for a seventh campaign, but general manager Al Pasloski says that is so far from the truth.
“We’re ready to go for next year,” commented Pasloski earlier this week. “We have our camp booked for Sept. 13-14 at the Kinsmen Arena. We just have to convince some of the local kids to come out. We have more luck getting players from Beardy’s and out-of-town kids.”
While the Icehawks have struggled in the past two years, there have been signs of the club turning things around. A stronger commitment from players and some different approaches to bringing a team together are things that are being focused on, but Pasloski insists there is a market for the PJHL in Prince Albert.
“We have to do more marketing and I am going to be working closer with the league on that,” says Pasloski. “Junior “B” is set up to help players make a jump to a higher level and I don’t think people realize that. There were six players in the PJHL that got scholarships. It would be lovely if I lost four or five kids to a higher level – that would be great.”
Pasloski says an ideal situation would be to align teams as an affiliate with a Junior “A” squad like the Prince Albert Raiders did in the old days with the Melfort TMs and Prince Albert Jaks. Having players affiliated with Junior “A” teams would allow them to practice with the higher-level team and play games with the PJHL squads. That would also keep the players close by if there were required as replacements with the parent team.
While he admits that is a long way off, there are other ways of strengthening the league and in particular the Icehawks. With the mandate having been to draw from local talent there has never been a need to recruit billets. Pasloski says that might have to change, but it is something he hopes to avoid as he is well aware that the Raiders, Mintos and A&W Bears are all stretched pretty thin in finding homes for out-of-town players and adding the Icehawks to the mix would only make matters worse.
“There are a lot of local kids in town – we just have to get them out,” explains Pasloski. “We are one of the few teams in the area with a scholarship (the Al Logue Memorial Bursary). We just have to find more methods to attract the kids.”
The Icehawks will have a solid nucleus for next season as just overagers Lyndon Arcand and Bryce Nemish have graduated from the club. There will be a battle for the two overage spots this year as four returning players – Tyler Tilford, Brent Bremner, Jordan Harasyn and Aidon Patrick - will be looking to make the final line-up, but that makes for a healthy competition.
Head coach Kim Dryka and his assistant Curtis Juravinski are both committed to being with the club for next season so all that is required is a strong player base from which to select a competitive team.
Anyone interested in trying out for the Icehawks next year is asked to go to: http://icehawks.pjhl.ca. Training camp isn’t that far away.