The Prince Albert Napa Ice may not have played a hockey game in almost two weeks, but coach Bill Hoko isn't worried.
Heading into this weekend's Prince Albert Peewee AA Classic tournament, Hoko believes his team is ready to vie for top spot despite the recent lack of action.
"I don't think it will affect us," he said of the 12-day break between his team's last game and its tournament opener Friday afternoon. "We've been practising pretty hard, twice a week. So I think they'll be fine. They're all in pretty good shape."
For the first week of practice, the Ice worked on shooting and getting pucks to the net. But as their 12-team tournament drew nearer, the practice strategy changed and became more focused on playing within their systems.
"This week we've been doing a lot of work on forechecking and playing in our own end," said Hoko.
Keys to success
So far this season, the Ice have emerged as the cream of the crop in the Centre-Four Hockey League's Peewee Division with a 7-0 record.
Not only does the team boast one of the most dynamic peewee players in the province in Ryan Duret (31 goals and 28 assists in seven games), but the Ice also have two other players - Zach Hurd and Reed Gunville - in the top 10 in league scoring.
On top of that, the Ice's goaltending tandem of Logan Morhart and Cory Selander have combined to allow an average of just 2.86 goals per game - tops in the CFHL.
However, Hoko says there's more to his team's success than just a high-scoring top line and solid play between the pipes.
"Everybody's been playing good this season," he said. "We've been working really hard, getting lots of puck movement and our defence has been really strong."
All of those factors, and maybe even a few intangibles, will have to come together this weekend if the Ice hope to skate away with gold at their own tournament.
"The last two years we've been runners-up," said Hoko. "Hopefully this year we'll be able to finally win it."
Friday 12:45 p.m. - Prince Albert vs. Warman (Kinsmen Arena)
Friday 5:45 p.m. - Prince Albert vs. Martensville (Kinsmen)
Friday and Saturday games are at Kinsmen Arena and Art Hauser Centre. Playoffs begin Saturday at 12:45 p.m. and Sunday at 7:45 a.m. Event finals Sunday at Kinsmen Arena, with championship game at 3:45 p.m.