Courtesy DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The 2014-15 COJHL Junior ‘C’ hockey season may still be months away, but local teams continued the evaluation process for incoming players as several local entries took to the ice at Toronto’s MasterCard Centre for the annual TEP Showcase Tournament from June 27 to 29.
For the Uxbridge Bruins and Port Perry MoJacks, the tournament served as an opportunity to gauge potential players against increased competition following their recent evaluation camps.
“I’m hoping to see character and consistency over the weekend,” Bruins Head Coach Geoff Hodgkinson told The Standard. “I’ve seen things that I haven’t seen so far in the evaluation process, and the idea is to see these kids in a more competitive situation than you’re likely to find at a rookie camp.”
The message was the same from newly named MoJacks Head Coach Clair Cornish, as the team brought an entry made up entirely of midget-aged hockey players who may make the jump to junior hockey in the fall.
“It’s a learning thing, we want to give our players some exposure, and let them know that this is what junior hockey is like, right down to the officiating,” explained Cornish.
Both North Durham entries featured numerous local products as the MoJacks, and Bruins look to cultivate their local minor hockey systems for potential players for next season, and beyond.
“We’re looking specifically to fill some holes in our line-up, and groom some hometown kids to hopefully play junior hockey,” said Cornish. “There is a strong group coming up in this area, and we want them to see how the game is more structured at this level, and work on their communication skills on the ice so that when they’re ready to take that next step, they’ll be able to step right in and be leaders.”
While Little Britain brought a team to the tournament featuring some players who saw action with the Merchants last season, the tournament offered their staff a chance to see how their veterans and newcomers worked together.
“Over the weekend, hopefully we’ll see how some of our rookies look playing with the vets, and hopefully by the time next season rolls around, we’ll have the right mix of newcomers to add in with our established veterans,” Merchants Head Coach Rob Louttit explained to The Standard.
Although both Uxbridge and Port Perry struggled on the ice – losing all four games played – the tournament offered coaching staffs the opportunity to see how their players handled adversity on the ice.
“More than anything, we want to see as a staff that these players are coachable and can make the necessary improvements to their game over the course of the weekend,” added Cornish. “These four games will hopefully show us which kids can come in and compete for a roster spot once we open training camp later this summer.”
For Hodgkinson and his staff, the message was largely the same, that a consistent effort was at the top of his staff’s wish list for the weekend.
“Our message has stayed the same, we want them to keep competing through adversity, and I think they’ve got it,” said Hodgkinson. “It takes time to gel as a team, and hopefully by the end of the weekend, we’re playing more as a team and have a solid base heading into training camp.”
The Georgina Ice fared the best out of all of the local entries in the tournament, advancing all the way to the championship game where they fell in overtime by a score of 3-2 against the Everest JT Prospects.
“Our team had a lot of fun at this tournament last year, and a lot of our players wanted another chance to compete,” Ice Head Coach and GM Steve Sedore said. “We rounded out our roster with some guys that played at a higher level last season, and the results were great and hopefully we can carry over some of this success once the season starts.”
PHOTO: Uxbridge Bruins prospect Alex Williamson keeps a close eye on the play at the TEP Showcase Tournament on Friday, June 27, at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto. The tournament featured entries from four COJHL teams: the Uxbridge Bruins, Port Perry MoJacks, Little Britain Merchants and Georgina Ice as teams continue preparations for the 2014-15 hockey season.