The Elmira Sugar Kings home opener isn’t until Sept. 18, but the team is already on the ice playing exhibition games and testing out new players.
This past weekend, the team held some inter-squad scrimmages and head coach Ty Canal says he liked what he saw.
“The guys came into camp in shape and right off the bat they seemed to be working hard. There are definitely no complaints,” he said on Tuesday ahead of an exhibition game against Waterloo. “They seemed loose and they seemed comfortable and that is nice to see in August after a summer off.”
He says the weekend was all about getting the lay of the land and getting familiar with new faces on the roster.
“We are just trying to get the guys organized and we are trying to see who likes to play with who, if there is any chemistry going on, and that type of thing,” said Canal. “There are still a lot of new guys and we are just changing lines up and seeing who can play well with who.”
The roster is nearly locked in, says Canal, adding that everything will be finalized in the next week or so, but so far, the new additions are performing well.“They are coming out of the gate and working really hard and we were really focusing on Jake Brown, Andrew MacIntyre, Zac Cameron, Mitch Hoelscher, Keanan Stewart – those guys. We wanted to see how they work in all three zones and try and find a complement for those guys. Matt Murray is looking good too and we focused on him a bit,” he said, adding that returning players are turning it up a notch this year as well. “Quinten Bruce looks like he has gotten quicker, Ty Biles looks strong and it’s nice to see (Dawson) Shackleton overcame his injuries from the end of last season and has been cleared to play. He is ready to go. From a coaching standpoint, we hadn’t seen a lot of these new guys play.”
Canal says he doesn’t have a complete coaching strategy in mind, but he is optimistic about the 2016-2017 season already.
“I think (the coaching strategy) will settle itself out when we get into some practices and some full lineup games and we can see what it all looks like on the ice. From the front end and the back end, they like moving the puck and moving it up quickly. Our guys on forward seem to be really fast this year,” he said. “We are definitely going to try and use that type of skill set when we start getting into things. The quicker we can move the puck and the quicker we can transition through all the zones, it is definitely going to be a benefit to us.”The Kings won their first exhibition game against Waterloo 6-1 on Aug. 21, and faced them again on Tuesday night, winning 2-0. On Aug. 28 at 7 p.m., the guys will be playing Guelph at the Woolwich Memorial Centre. They go up against Cambridge twice, once at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 at the WMC, and rounding out the preseason in Cambridge on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.
The regular season starts at the Western Fair Community Centre in London, against Strathroy at 2 p.m. on Sept. 10 and against Leamington at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 11.