Saskatchewan will require true team effort
By Darren Zary, The StarPhoenix
April 5, 2012
No true superstars.
No projected Western Hockey League first-rounders to speak of.
No problem then.
The provincial bantam hockey league champion North East Wolf Pack hopes to surprise at this week's Western Canadian Bantam AAA Hockey Championship in Stony Plain, Alta., based on a true team game.
The Wolf Pack features a solid squad through from goaltending to defence to forwards. While Saskatchewan has had a rough go at the Western Canadian championship over the past decade, the Wolf Pack hope to buck that trend.
But it won't be easy. Nothing less than a best effort will bring success, admits Wolf Pack head coach Darren Seaman.
"We're going to go there and compete, like we do every other game, and hopefully that (translates into success)," Seaman said Wednesday as his team pulled into Edmonton. "That's all we can do right now."
Key will be the team's depth, which includes rolling three lines and rotating goalies Nik Amundrud and Matt Cresswell, and, of course, work ethic. There are no superstars to rely on, really.
"That's exactly right, but we have everybody and, if they work hard, they have success with that," noted Seaman, whose son, Caleb, is considered to be a WHL prospect as a power forward along with Tristan Elder.
Anchoring the back end are Bryce Fiske, Matt Long, Devin Gerwing and Lane Regnier. Up front, Seaman and Elder are joined by leading scorer Zak Paziuk, Kalem Zary, Chad Grambo and Jordan Borstmayer as top-six forwards.
First up for the Wolf Pack are the high-powered Burnaby Winter Club Bruins, who are loaded with a number of highly touted potential high WHL draft picks.
"We're just worrying about our own game right now and go from there," said Seaman, whose Wolf Pack meet the Bruins on Thursday at 4 p.m. (local).
"This is all new to me and everybody else around us, too."
Rounding out the five team tournament are the host Parkland Athletic Club Saints from Spruce Grove, Alta., Edmonton's South Side Athletic Club Southgate Lions and Manitoba champion Pembina Valley Hawks.
Team Saskatchewan was scheduled to have a practice late Wednesday afternoon upon arrival.
The Pack will play twice on Friday with games against Team Alberta (SSAC Southgate Lions) at 9 a.m. and the host Spruce Grove Saints at 4 p.m.
The Saskatchewan reps, who knocked off the Sask Valley Diamond Vipers in the north final and Balgonie-based Prairie Storm in the provincial final, include players from Melfort, St. Brieux, Tisdale, Nipawin, Arborfield, Choiceland, Air Ronge, St. Louis, Kinistino, Birch Hills and Prince Albert.
"We're just going to have to be real good," stressed Seaman. "Not pretty good, but really good to compete with these guys. We'll have to be at the top of our game for 60 minutes or we won't fare very well."
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