Hockey season’s here – Puck previews

Fighting in front of the net for the puck.

Garret Watson attempts a wrap-around on Briercrest Clippers goalie Jesse Chenard. The Trojans went on to win the game 7-4. ANDREW CROSSETT PHOTO

Women’s hockey
After winning a championship last season, the SAIT Trojans women’s hockey team is primed for a repeat.
The Trojans high-scoring trio Lindsay Audia, Bianca Zuber, and Tia Hanson are all returning this season, and will carry the load offensively.
The three dominated the ACAC playoffs last season, combining for 36 points in seven games.
“I think offensively we are a lot stronger than any other year that I have been here,” said head coach Terry Larson.
The biggest question mark surrounding the team is their young and inexperienced blue line, but Larson thinks they will do just fine.
“Defensively we are young, but they are way above any of my expectations,” he said.
However, if the Trojans can produce offensively like they did last year, they won’t have to worry about defence.
“We have lots of our strong forwards coming back, and we have some rookies who can score,” said Audia.
Tehnille Gard and Chelsie Lowe are both returning between the pipes this season. The two split starts last season, and Larson expects the same this time around.
“If they are both playing well, that’s the way we are going to do it and we told them that,” said Larson.
“It takes a lot off when you know you’ve got somebody back there who is going to stop 99 per cent of the shots that come in there.”
The season gets underway with back-to-back weekend games against arch rival MRU starting on Oct. 14.
Audia expects an emotional, hard-fought game, and each team will be looking to make a statement early in the season.
“It should be intense, they’re definitely going to come out hard wanting to beat us because we beat them (in the finals) last year.”

Men’s Hockey
With last year’s loss to MRU in the ACAC finals still fresh, the SAIT Trojans men’s hockey team is revamped, refreshed, and looking for redemption.
“We’re excited, and after last year’s bitter taste in our mouth I think we’re all ready to go and anxious for a new year,” said head coach Ken Babey.
“(The loss) has crossed my mind every night.”
Defenceman John Malin was named the new team captain, with Garrett Watson, Matt Stefanishion, and Travis Bradshaw as the assistants.
“All those four young men are great examples of what we like in a leader. They lead by example. They’re all key players for our team and they are good students,” said Babey.
Malin and defence partner Joel Woznikoski are the team’s top shutdown pairing. Both standing at six-foot-five, they’re referred to as the “twin towers” amongst the team members.
With the departures of Kevin Lessard, Mike Ullrich, Shane Lust, and Ryan Hyland, there will be a void in the scoring department and certain players must step up offensively this year.
Watson had a productive preseason, netting eight points in his final two games, and will look to carry the momentum into the regular season.
There is a three-way battle shaping up for the Trojans in net, and Ken Babey has yet to decide on a starting goalie.
Adam Barko played for the L’orange Ice Wolves and won two championships. Andy Williams was a starter for Grande Prarie for the past couple of seasons. Also, a surprise recruit over the summer is ex-pro goalie Tommy Sandahl from Sweden.
All three are reliable goaltenders, but Ken Babey is in no rush to name a starter just yet.
“Those three are still battling it out for the pecking order. I don’t think it’s been established yet and it’s going to take us some more games,” said Babey.
The road to redemption started Oct. 7 at home.

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