The Team Saskatchewan U16 roster was finalized earlier this month and the top 20 players from 14 different communities in the province will be representing the green and white this week.
The U16 team rolled into Medicine Hat on Tuesday evening to compete in an exhibition game prior to travelling to Calgary to compete at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup being held from Nov. 1-4.
“Getting an exhibition game under our belts before we go to Calgary will be good,” said Trevor Weisgerber, assistant coach. “Everyone is looking forward to getting started.”
The team will begin their tournament on Thursday afternoon against Manitoba. With such a high level of prospects to choose from, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association narrowed the roster down from 42 players to 20 throughout the summer months. The most elite players in the province — two goaltenders, six defencemen and 12 forwards made the team.
“When you get that many good players on a team, guys will have different roles on our team than on their regular teams. That it just the way it goes when you have that many top players,” explained Weisgerber. “It is all good…they will all be buying in and hopefully we can do a job here in Calgary.”
The U16 team will also compete against British Columbia on Friday then Alberta on Saturday. The bronze and gold medal games will be held on Sunday at the Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary. Team Saskatchewan already has a goal in mind for the tournament.
“The goal is to always win, so that is what we have said right from the start. We want to win this tournament,” Weisgerber stated.
With such high talent on the team, scoring shouldn’t be an issue for any of the four teams competing, but Team Saskatchewan feels they are a balanced team with defence being their strength.
“We have a strong defensive core and great goaltending,” he said. “We will have to keep the scores low and I’m sure there will be a lot of one goal games and hopefully do well on our specialty teams and score goals that way.”
Just like Team Saskatchewan, the other three teams have also set their rosters with the top players in their respective provinces. Although the coaching staff and players realize that, they are preparing to do their best.
“We just worrying about our team and doing a good job with that. We will go out and play our game,” said Weisgerber.
Three Moose Jaw Midget AAA Generals — forwards Rykr Cole and Regan Nagy and defenceman Shane Collins made the team and will be asked to provide leadership.
“They are all great players and we will need those two (Cole and Nagy) to contribute offensively for us and put up some points and score some goals,” he stated. “Collins is just a great shut down defenceman. He sees the ice well and he will be a good shut down guy for us.”