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AAA Warriors kick off season with training camp

Impressive showings abound as new coaching staff gets first look at 2019-20 squad
The Moose Jaw AAA Warriors officially kicked off a new era for the local Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League squad this past weekend with their annual training camp.

The event offered new head coach Trevor Weisgerber and his staff their first chance to see their potential new charges in on-ice action – the team held sessions at Mosaic Place all day Saturday before their Black-White Intrasquad game on Sunday afternoon – and the word is especially positive in the early going.

“It was good, we saw what we wanted to this weekend,” Weisgerber said. “We had some spots up front that we needed to fill and we still have some guys we’re going to keep around for the exhibition games before making a final decision moving forward. So all in all it was a competitive camp and we liked what we saw.”

The AAA camp is traditionally held in mid-August in order to give players a chance to show their stuff before heading out to try-out with their respective Western Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League squads.

That includes the likes of Cody Davis, one of the squad’s returning veterans who put together an impressive performance during the intrasquad game, scoring twice and adding an assist as Team White picked up a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.

“It was just go out there, have a good time with the guys, experience some new plays and have some fun… it was a good camp, really well organized, everything was ready to go,” said Davis, who led the then-Moose Jaw Generals in goals with 27 last year. “It was a lot of fun.”

It’s likely the 17-year-old has played his last game for the Warriors, as the highly touted SJHL prospect will almost certainly crack the Estevan Bruins line-up – something that’s all fine and well with Weisgerber.
“That’s what we’re here for, we’re just a stepping stone for these guys,” he said. “They want to move on and play junior and we totally understand that. With a guy like Cody, he’s a heck of a player, and if things did change we would definitely be happy to have him back”

The general look of the Warriors is that of a very young team, with only a handful of 2002-born players expected to return from last season’s squad that posted a 17-24-2-1 record and missed the playoffs.

“We have a lot of 03s that are going to step up and are going to need to step up for us to be successful this year,’ Weisgerber said. “There were a bunch who looked good this weekend and as the season goes on we’re going to be relying on them heavily to be the guys for us… Then if we get a few 02s back from junior camps, we’re going to have to rely on those guys to help those guys out and be major contributors for us.”

One thing that is certain is the team will have a healthy Moose Jaw contingent in its line-up after a host of standouts from the Prairie Hockey Academy Elite 15 and Midget Varsity clubs took the ice over the weekend – with the possibility of as many as a half-dozen or more Moose Jaw players cracking the squad.

“We’re going to have a good group of hometown kids here who are going to be productive and we’ll be looking to have good years,” Weisgerber said.

The Warriors will be back on the ice for practices on Sept. 3, with their first exhibition game slated for Sept. 7 at Mosaic Place against the Swift Current Legionnaires.

Overtime… Team White had a goal and two assists from Atley Calvert in the intra-squad game, while Kyle Forster and Connor Ruckaber added single markers… Caelan Fitzpatrick, Steven Kesslering, McKale Paul and Evan Callaghan all scored for Black… Dylan Ernst made 24 saves for White in his half game of work in goal, Mason Briske turned aside 18… Chase Coward had 10 stops for Black, Jayden Watterson turned aside 11… Black led 4-1 early in the second before White scored three goals in five minutes to tie the game and Davis added the game winner with 7:08 remaining in the frame.