Men’s hockey to announce final roster after 52 players try out

Recruits adjust to new rule enforcements

The men will play RMC Wednesday in Jock Harty Arena.
The men will play RMC Wednesday in Jock Harty Arena.
Journal File Photo

Brett Gibson has had a tough couple of weeks. But he couldn’t be happier about it.

Gibson, the new head coach of the men’s hockey team spent the last weeks of summer and first weeks of the school year deciding on the roster for this year’s team. He said the quality of the 52 players who showed up to camp made for some difficult decisions.

“I asked them to make my job hard—not make it easy by not showing up in shape—and they have [made it hard].”

A higher level of overall conditioning is one of Gibson’s mandates for his new team.

He said it was obvious who had put in the extra work over the summer and it was those players who earned a spot on the squad.

After the first week of camp the coaching staff cut the group down to 32 players.

Those 32 saw their first action this weekend, playing a double header against the Ottawa Gee-Gees in Gananoque on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Gibson said he used the exhibition games to test each player on their reactions to a game situation.

“I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to show what they could do,” he said.

They lost the first game 8-2 but Gibson said he’s still optimistic.

“The 8-2 score was not indicative of the game,” he said. “We just weren’t prepared for the new rules.”

Stricter enforcement of stick infractions and obstruction are placing greater emphasis on players using their skating skills instead of their sticks to best their opponents. Gibson said there was a much greater number of slashing and hooking calls in the past two games than the team is used to, but he feels the players are adjusting quickly.

Evidence of the team’s ability to adapt came during Saturday’s game when they tied the Gee Gees 6-6.

“I was really happy with the way the guys responded,” Gibson said.

He said he is impressed by some of the first-year players who came to training camp.

Blake Pronk, who played centre for the Kingston Frontenacs, is expected to make a significant contribution to the offensive side of the team. Gibson said that Andrew Thorn, a first-year defender, also looks promising.

Perhaps the biggest standout of the incoming class is goalie Ryan Gibb. Gibb started Friday’s game and Gibson said the first-year player will likely hold on to that role.

“I expect big things from him,” he said.

Gibb allowed only one of the eight goals scored against the Gaels. He was one of five goalies to tryout for the team and one of three who made it through the first set of cuts.

Returning forward Brady Olsen, who was one of the Gaels leading scorers last season, also demonstrated that he was prepared to make an even greater impact on the team this year.

“Brady Olsen has come back and really stepped into more of a leadership role than last year,” Gibson said.

Gibson cut the team down to 24 after Saturday’s game and said that several more cuts will be made before the final roster is announced.

“I’m really looking forward to the next couple days of practice because now I’m down to a number I can teach.”

He said that up until now the group has been too big to do much more than test them on drills and exercises.

The remaining players will face the RMC Paladins tomorrow at Jock Harty and the coaches will be looking for the team to play a more competitive and less defensive style of game, Gibson said.

He said there have been some bumps along the way but overall his experience as head coach has been positive.

“I feel they’re not going to like all of my decisions but I hope they respect them and so far I’ve received nothing but the utmost respect.”

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