A tough start for Ice Hawks
It was a rough first weekend of hockey for Rugby’s Junior Gold team.
The Ice Hawks went 0-2-1 at a tournament in Sidney, Montana, and of more concern, had two players go down with injuries.
Certainly not the start an experienced squad envisioned, but it is what it is.
“The injuries certainly are the primary concern right now,” said Rugby coach Jay McClintock Jr.
Senior forward Daniel Gannarelli suffered a deep thigh bruise in the first game and sat out the final two tournament games. Junior defenseman Jacob McClintock suffered a minor concussion that kept him out of the lineup for part of the tournament as well.
Rugby entered the tournament with just a handful of practices under its belt, and it showed in the first two games — a pair of defeats –to teams from Saskatchewan. “We were not in game shape, and both of those teams had been on the ice for two months and played a dozen or so games,” McClintock said. “By the end of each game we had tired legs.”
The third game was a 1-1 draw against Richland (Sidney), which ended with the Ice Hawks losing a shootout. However, it will go down as a tie.
The tournament showed McClintock there are many things to work on in all three zones of the rink. “Those games exposed some weaknesses we have to address, but we also had some moments where we played quite well,” he said.
Despite coming home empty-handed, in terms of a victory, the team did yield some positives, McClintock pointed out.
–Seven different players found the score sheet.
–Both goalies — Andy Brossart and Thomas Seaver — played 90 minutes.
–The team outshot one of its opponents and nearly completed a four-goal comeback against another.
Home opener is Dec. 7.
Rugby will play its home opener and first league game this Sunday, Dec. 7 against Mayville-Portland at 3 p.m. at the Al Wentz Arena.
The team’s first few weeks of practice have been in Cando and elsewhere as the result of necessary structural repairs to the arena’s south wall and to the compressor which makes the arena’s artificial ice. McClintock was hopeful the team would be able to get in at least a couple of practices at the arena before its home opener against May-Port.
It’s the first of five straight at home this month against conference foes — a golden opportunity for Rugby to move up the standings early in the season.
“These games now count in the standings, and you always want to play well and win games at home,” he said.