A new campaign is up and running for the Edge Mountaineers midget prep boys' hockey team, following the team's early exit in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) playoff tournament last year.
After a lengthy off-season, the Springbank-based Mountaineers kicked off the 2019-20 season with a trio of home games Sept. 27 to 29, at the Edge School’s midget prep and elite 15 showcase.
According to head coach James Poole, it was a mixed weekend. The Mountaineers won the first game, but suffered an overtime loss and a 4-0 defeat in the subsequent fixtures.
“We were disappointed, results-wise,” he said. “Especially the [second] game, we let two points slip out of our hands.”
The Mountaineers started the weekend strong Sept. 27, beating OHA Edmonton 3-1 on home ice, with all four goals coming in the final 13 minutes. After a cagey opening two periods, senior forward Luke German got things started for the Edge when he rifled a one-timer past OHA’s goaltender, following an inside feed from Jayden Davis.
The @edgeschool is hosting the @CSSHL Midget/Elite 15 showcase this weekend. Here’s 2002-born Luke German opening the scoring for Edge’s midget prep team against OHA Edmonton, midway through the 3rd period of game 1. pic.twitter.com/tnwCkLaF1H— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) September 27, 2019
German’s goal sparked a flurry of offence for the Mountaineers, which quickly led to first-year forwards Rieger Lorenz and Connor Gourley extending the Edge’s lead to three goals.
“We started blocking shots on the penalty kill and it just generated momentum for the boys,” German said. “We scored the first few on the penalty kill, and that helped us out.”
Edmonton spoiled the host’s shutout with a goal of its own in the last six minutes, but there was no coming back for the visitors.
“Guys really played well in front of me,” said Edge goaltender Daniel Hauser, a 15-year-old who was selected by the Winnipeg Ice in the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) 2019 bantam draft. “I made some stops and it was a good team win.”
The rest of the weekend didn’t go as smoothly – the Edge lost 4-3 in overtime to the Winnipeg-based RINK Hockey Academy Sept. 28, before being shut out 4-0 by the Northern Alberta Xtreme the following day.
“We were disappointed not to come away with more wins, but it’s the starting point,” Poole said. “Championships aren’t handed out in September. We know how we stack up against the good teams.
“Now, we have to go to work to make some improvements and tighten some areas up.”
The Edge was one of the top regular-season squads in the CSSHL midget prep division last year, but faltered in the early stages of the playoff tournament.
Poole said making sure players are peaking at the right time is the goal, this season.
“As a team, we really want to dial in our game by January, February, so that by the time we get to playoff time, we can hopefully take a run at those top teams and end up being the team to beat,” he said.
He added he likes what he sees from this year’s roster.
“Overall, offensively, we have some skill, we’ve got some speed and we’ve got some grit,” he said. “I think there’s a balance of that throughout our lineup, in terms of the mobility we have on the back-end and some speed up front.”
This year’s midget prep squad has a new look compared to last season, with just two returning players – German and Langley Kruggel.
Poole said it was a good decision for the two Grade-12 players to stay in the CSSHL for one more season, instead of trying their hand at the junior level.
“I think they could jump into a junior A program and play a lower role on those teams, but they probably wouldn’t develop as much as coming back here, being leaders and being our go-to players at the midget prep level,” he said. “In the long run, it’s going to make them better players.”
Of the midget prep team’s new crop of players, four came directly from the Edge’s bantam prep team last year – Hauser, Gourley, Lorenz and Jaren Brinson. WHL teams selected all four of those Grade-10s in this year’s bantam draft.
“It’s nice that you’re starting to see some bantam prep players making the jump directly to midget prep,” Poole said. “They’ve already shown they belong at this level.”
For a full schedule of the Mountaineers’ games this season, visit csshl.ca