COCHRANE—The Cochrane Generals wrapped up its official tryouts with an inter-squad game on Sunday (Oct. 4) at the Cochrane Arena.
The 38 hopefuls, 15 of them returning veterans, took to the ice, vying for one of 25 available spots on the Generals’ roster.
Head coach of the Generals, Kurtis Jones, said he was impressed with what he saw over the weekend.
“We had a lot of competition, a lot of skill and the guys that came in really battled hard for a spot,” Jones said.
Jones enlisted 12 scouts from various levels of the hockey world to get some extra eyes on the players competing for a spot.
Among the scouts were five goalie-specific evaluators, while the rest focused on the offense and defense.
Over the course of the weekend, the coaching staff made some “tough decisions,” but has arrived at a preliminary roster.
“That’s the hard part about being a coach,” he said. “You’ve got to release guys that you don’t want to. If you could keep everybody you would.”
The Heritage Junior Hockey League specifies that a roster can have 25 players, but the Gens have only filled 24 spots.
Jones said he’s leaving the last spot open to see if anyone who might fit the team becomes available from another league.
“There’s always players trickling down from Junior A, so we kind of decided to go with 24 after the weekend and leave that last spot,” he said. “We’ll see if we like the player that’s going to come in or not.”
A lot of the players trying out were Midget age, Jones said, which makes the decision-making process hard.
There were 18 goalies that reached out, hoping to attend the camp, and the Generals selected seven to try out.
“It’s probably the best goaltending I’ve seen in camp,” he said. “Every kid deserved to be there, but we can only take what we took. Our goalie coach made the decision that, if they can play Midget, let’s make them go back and play Midget.”
Jones said that for the sake of the player’s development, it is better they get the game experience rather than spending the season riding the bench as a backup.
Over the course of the next month, Jones said, the players will be working to get ready for the season.
“We have a whole good month to get everybody on the same page and get everybody conditioned and ready to fly for, hopefully, the opening of the season in November,” he said. “It’s a lot of team-building stuff, it’s a lot of conditionin— Systematically we’ve got to plan that out as well.”
Although the Gens have a roster selected, the official list of players does not need to be submitted to the Heritage Junior Hockey League until a few days before the season’s first game, the date of which is yet to be determined.
Jones said previously he was hoping to organize some pre-season exhibition games against the Okotoks Bisons, but noted those games are dependent on when the season starts.
“If the league schedule goes up for November 13, then we can play those games,” he said. “If it goes earlier then we can’t play those games because we need to take a 14-day rest between each series.”