Prince Albert Predators coach Terry Lange leads the team stretch Saturday at Steuart Arena during training camp. The junior B Predators host a Prairie Gold Lacrosse League exhibition game against the Saskatoon Steelers on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Kinsmen Arena. Herald photo by Marty Hastings
The junior B Prairie Gold Lacrosse League's long off-season is over, and the Prince Albert Predators are taking full advantage of the limited time allotted for training camp.
"We were eager to get back on the floor," Predators coach Terry Lange said Saturday at Steuart Arena.
"We're already behind the Saskatoon teams that work out at indoor soccer stadiums. We've only got two weeks to prepare for the season, so we use this weekend to go real hard, and to try and get (the players) to bond as teammates."
Lange plans to carry a roster of 20 players during the season, which means eight of the 28 players competing for spots will be cut before May 1.
"I know there's some rivalries out there on the floor, vying for positions and places on the team," said Lange, who's entering his third year as the team's head coach.
"It's difficult to make cuts in any sport. I think the key is knowing there will be opportunities for them in the future."
The 12 returning Predators are likely to get the nod from Lange again this year, which leaves eight spots up for grabs.
"We graduated a few players last year, so there are holes to fill," he said.
Kent Porter, the Predators' top scorer last season, and Tanner Fetch, who split the goaltending duties with Brett Lypchuk, were both recruited by the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League's Saskatchewan Swat.
Lypchuk will also play in the Rocky Mountain league this season. He was picked up by the Edmonton Warriors.
It's never easy to replace such reliable players, Lange said, but there's a group of youngsters who are ready to step up and make names for themselves.
"I'm excited about the '94-born kids, the second-year midgets," Lange said. "They've got great stick skills, a lot of minor experience, a good foundation and a good lacrosse background."
One of the second-year midget players Lange spoke of, 15-year-old Brennan Boruch, is keen to help the Predators in their bid for A Prairie Gold league title.
"It's good to be here," said Boruch, who's been looking forward to claiming a spot on the Predators' roster for a long time. "Hopefully, we can make a run in the playoffs."
Predators captain Scott Zelensky, 20, said he's impressed with some of the younger players, and happy with how the team has jelled in the short time its been together.
"Lots of the guys are already starting to connect," said Zelensky, who's especially excited to clash with Saskatoon's two Prairie Gold teams, the Smash and the Steelers. "I'd like to make playoffs, and get as far as we can."
The Predators finished fourth in the regular season standings in 2009, and knocked off Moose Jaw 7-6 in the bronze-medal game.
Players will have a chance to audition for roster spots in exhibition games this week against both Saskatoon teams. The Predators host the Steelers on Wednesday, and the Smash on Thursday. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Kinsmen Arena.
Regular-season play gets underway May 1, when the Predators host the Smash at Kinsmen Arena in a 2 p.m. start.